First lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday urged food manufacturers to better market healthier foods to kids, saying that children are inundated with too many advertisements for sweet and salty treats.
“The average child watches thousands of food advertisements each year, and 86 percent of these ads are for products loaded with sugar, fat, salt,” the first lady said at her White House food summit. “By contrast, our kids see an average of just one ad a week for healthy products like water to fruits and vegetables. Just one ad a week.”
Obama has made combating obesity a key issue as first lady, drawing praise from health groups but also scorn from critics who dismiss her for pushing “nanny-state” solutions.
The first lady recently launched a campaign encouraging consumers to drink more water, an initiative that was greeted with skepticism by some health experts and seen by others as benefitting the bottled water industry and other beverage manufacturers.
The first lady says her latest marketing campaign, along with the water push, is just part of a broader effort to combat alarming health trends. In her address, she said an average of one in three American kids is expected to develop diabetes and that dietary decisions now cause more deaths annually than smoking.
But she touted progress in efforts on public nutrition.
“I see it everywhere I go all across this country,” Obama said. “I see it in chain restaurants that are serving kale salads, and they're filling kids’ menus with not just nuggets and fries, but with broccoli and whole-wheat pasta. I see it in churches where instead of fried chicken and mac and cheese for church supper, they’re serving up grilled fish and brown rice.”