I recently “met” through Twitter a former British ad exec named Dan Parker, who for two decades worked on ad campaigns for all the biggest names in Big Food. But then Parker developed Type 2 diabetes, the same disease that killed his father, and that dramatic wake-up call changed his entire life: Parker closed down his ad agency, started a nonprofit devoted to promoting healthy lifestyles called Living Loud UK, and he’s now a staunch proponent of banning all junk food advertising to children.
Parker tells his own story today in the Daily Mail, where he also breaks down for readers all the subtle techniques used by the food and beverage industries to hook us into consuming more of their unhealthy products. It’s well worth a read.
On a related note, back in December I shared a Medium piece I co-wrote with Dr. Jennifer Harris, Director of Marketing Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, which looked back at the ten-year history of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI). The CFBAI is an industry-led self-regulatory effort that’s supposed to ensure that only ads for “healthier dietary choices” appear on “child directed media,” but as our piece discussed, the scheme is so rife with loopholes that many unhealthy food and drink ads continue to reach our kids.
Our piece was spotted on social media by Stephanie M. Lee, the BuzzFeed reporter who covers the food industry, and I’m a few weeks late in sharing her resulting story: “These Food Products Are Considered ‘Healthier’ For Kids By the Food Industry.” In her reporting, Lee spoke with both Harris and Maureen Enright, director of the CFBAI, and it’s an excellent deep dive into this important issue.
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