First Lady Michelle Obama Encourages Collaborative Food Marketing Effort to Empower Parents

Ed. Note: This is adapted from the Let's Move! blog. You can see the original post here

From the State Dining Room of the White House yesterday, the First Lady addressed a diverse cross section of leaders from food and media industry executives, advocates, parent leaders, government agency representatives and researchers about the power of marketing in influencing kids’ food choices and the need for leveraging this power toward healthier food options for our nation’s children. The goal of the convening was to begin a constructive, collaborative dialogue and strategize about ways to shift the marketing of unhealthy products to healthier products and decrease the marketing of unhealthy products to kids.

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a "Let's Move!" food marketing convening

First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a "Let's Move!" food marketing convening in the State Dining Room of the White House, Sept. 18, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

When the average child is now spending nearly eight hours a day in front of some kind of screen, many of their opinions and preferences are being shaped by the marketing campaigns you all create. And that’s where the problem comes in.

And I’m here today with one simple request -- and that is to do even more and move even faster to market responsibly to our kids.

Mrs. Obama praised companies such as Disney and Birds Eye Vegetables for their success in utilizing marketing to encourage healthier food choices in our kids. However, children are still being exposed to thousands of food ads each year for products loaded with sugar, fat, and salt. 

I am not asking anyone to take the fun out of childhood.  As we all know, treats are one of the best parts of being a kid. Instead, the goal here is to empower parents instead of undermining them as they try to make healthier choices for their families.

This issue has truly taken on a life of its own because it is affecting just about every family and every community in this country. Parents are increasingly anxious as they see their kids developing diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure -- conditions that would have been unthinkable to find in children just a generation ago. "I think that we can all agree that parents deserve more control over the products and messages their kids are exposed to," said Mrs. Obama. 

Following the First Lady’s remarks, attendees of the event participated in two separate breakout sessions to share ideas and discuss future steps to build and develop a marketing and food industry dedicated to healthier food choices for kids and their families.   

So I hope that all of you will really engage.  I hope that you’ll really talk to each other, and learn from each other, and come up with new solutions that will make a real difference for our kids. We want to hear from everyone involved in this issue -- from industry leaders to advocates to researchers and to parents -- because we’re all in this together.

That’s why I wanted to bring all of you together today -- because you guys know better than anyone how to get kids excited. You’ve done it before, and we need you to do it again. And fortunately you have everything it takes to get this done because through the magic of marketing and advertising, all of you, more than anyone else, have the power to shape our kids’ tastes and desires.

To watch the First Lady's entire address, click here

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Elyse Cohen is the Deputy Director of Let’s Move!
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