Rockefeller sets sights on junk food ads

WASHINGTON – Sen. JayRockefeller, D-W.Va., has asked Nickelodeon and its parent company Viacom to ban ads targeted at kids that promote and sell junk food and sugar-filled beverages.

The cable channel has a moral obligation to protects the health of its young and impressionable audience, Rockefeller said.

“This is about making sure our kids are able to live strong, healthy lives, and there are concrete steps each of us can take to support these efforts,” said Rockefeller. “Nickelodeon can take one major step forward in the fight against childhood obesity by banning junk food and sugar-filled beverage ads that target kids.”

Nickelodeon airs a quarter of the food advertisements viewed by children under 12, according to a 2010 Yale University study. Last year, the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that 69 percent of foods advertised on Nickelodeon – fast foods, sugary cereals, and sweet snacks – were of poor nutritional quality.

Rockefeller also wants to eliminate incentives for companies that sell or market these products, and promote access to programs that encourage healthy and active lifestyles.

In the 2012 America’s Health Rankings, West Virginia was rated third highest nationwide for obesity and diabetes, and overall health outcomes. The state has consistently ranked at, or near the bottom, in many other national health polls.

“We must do better in West Virginia to increase physical activity in our communities and promote the great health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Rockefeller. “Combined with more access to screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol, these efforts can reduce the likelihood of chronic disease and improve our state’s overall health.”