Newsbites June 23: Shaq, Kid Marketing, TGIF's smaller | The Family Fork

Newsbites June 23: Shaq, Kid Marketing, TGIF's smaller

Are y'all gonna check out Shaquille O'Neal's childhood obesity themed reality series this week, "Shaq's Big Challenge"? I certainly am. In the six part series Shaq challenges 6 overweight tweens to adopt healthier lifestyles and increase their activity level. I'm very curious to see how his tough love and scare tactics panned out with these kids. Research and most experts don't really support that kind of approach.. but who knows, maybe a big celeb like Shaq can exert a positive influence. The show starts Tuesday April 26 on ABC. Apparently, as an appointee of the Florida Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, Shaq hopes to take his crusade into the States' schools advocating more PE and nutritious lunches.

That I really am curious to see as we all know it is quite a challenge to dramatically change the inner workings of our school system given the pressures on them by such legislation as "No Child Left Behind" and lack of funding for higher quality meals. If he comes up with a solution I am all ears!

More on the marketing front: Food firms are being asked to take the lead of Kellogg's by further restricting advertising to children. The Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Senator Edward Markey, is calling on Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kraft, PepsiCo and McDonald's to step up and play larger role in "solving the childhood obesity problem through socially responsible advertising practices". The Democratic Representative held a hearing this week with the Subcommittee to determine if legislative or regulatory action should be taken to "safeguard kids from junk food ads" said Markey. The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Health and Human Services will also hold a forum, Weighing In: A Check-Up on Marketing, Self-Regulation, and Childhood Obesity July 18th to further examine the food industries practices and if any progress has been made.

What do you think? I think this is the last chance for these food and beverage companies to finally make a real commitment to get on the responsible bandwagon and drastically cut back on clever marketing to our kids. If not, I'm all for policy change.

One last thing... T.G.I. Friday's smaller portions menu is working! Four months ago the restaurant chain introduced “Right Portion, Right Price” and so far it's been a success actually bringing in more customers! This is a good sign that consumers are becoming more committed to change and the food industry's response is getting a response. The responsible bandwagon may turn into profits.. imagine that.

The world is changing...

Have a fruit and veggie filled day!
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.