| WASHINGTON, Sept 18
WASHINGTON, Sept 18 First Lady Michelle Obama
asked television and food company executives at a White House
gathering on Wednesday to sell youngsters on healthy food with
the pitch: "If anyone can make our kids eat their vegetables,
it's all of you."
Mrs. Obama cited the power of advertising, now a torrent
touting salty, fatty and sugary goodies, in calling for a switch
to marketing, "foods that have real nutritional value, foods
that are fortified with real fruit and vegetables, whole grains
and low-fat dairy."
The speech headlined "a convening about food marketing to
children" was in the State Dining Room of the White House and
was part of Mrs. Obama's campaign against childhood obesity. The
Let's Move initiative, launched in 2010, encouraging physical
exercise and more nutritious school meals is the best-known
Last week, Mrs. Obama gave a push to a new "Drink Up" drive
for Americans to consume water rather than sugary beverages.
Seven dozen companies and advocacy groups were invited to
the White House gathering. The list included Burger King and
Taco Bell, General Mills, Kraft, Walmart and Mars among food
companies. Time Warner, Disney, Univision and Viacom were among
the media companies. Community groups, consumer groups,
academics and health advocates also attended.
The goal was to engender collaboration among the companies
and groups to make it easier for families to eat healthier meals
and find out how marketing could help.
Mrs. Obama suggested that media companies could keep ads for
unhealthy foods out of children's programs and devote their
licensed characters - she used the example of characters from
Sesame Street - to promote healthy foods.
Sam Kass, executive director of Let's Move, said, "we're
committed to continuing the dialogue and making progress,"
following the session on Wednesday.
In 2011, the Federal Trade Commission failed to get food and
beverage makers to agree to voluntary guidelines on marketing to
children. Since then, there have been various initiatives by
individual companies or business coalitions to reduce calories
in their products or set a code of conduct on marketing.