Is the "bully pulpit" enough to protect kids from unhealthy foods?

foxchickAn interesting article on CBSNews.com outlines a new plan by First Lady Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move campaign to help curtail the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. One key point the article and the administration make is that there won’t be any federal mandates to curb marketing activities; instead, they’ll rely on the “bully pulpit” (read: peer pressure) to get companies to choose to change their efforts.

It seems that asking the industry that has touted Cocoa Krispies as a way to stave off H1N1 and uses the color pink to sell cigarettes to girls to police itself when it comes to the number one public-health issue in the country is a bit like asking the fox to guard the hen house, but what do you think? Is this the way to affect real change? Is “shaming” marketers into changing their behaviors, as Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz suggests in the article, enough?

David Ludwig, MD, PhD, a childhood obesity expert and director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Optimal Weight for Life Clinic, has written extensively on this topic, including two recent commentaries in the Journal of the American Medical Association: whether front-of-package food labels have become so misleading that they might need to be eliminated altogether and whether the food industry can play a constructive role in the obesity epidemic.

In another Thrive blog post from today, Ludwig talks about his latest JAMA commentary, which recommends bringing back home economics classes to help kids – and their parents – learn how to prepare healthy foods.