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UVM Professor Attends White House Summit on Food Marketing

Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a meeting Wednesday on food marketing to children. A researcher from the University of Vermont was among the experts invited to the White House.

The summit, which the White House titled a “Convening on Food Marketing to Children,” is part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative to promote healthy American families. Mrs. Obama said the goal of the meeting was to leverage the power of marketing to promote healthy food products.

The First Lady noted that the average child views thousand of food ads every year. 86 percent are for products filled with sugar, fat and salt, while only one ad per week is for healthy foods like fruit, vegetables or water. University of Vermont Bickford Professor of Nutrition Rachel Johnson is a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Science Board and chair of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee.  Johnson says food marketing is a huge factor in the childhood obesity crisis.

Johnson reports that the White House meeting included breakout sessions that discussed ways the food industry could change how it markets products. She believes there has been some progress.

The First Lady cited data indicating that poor diet has eclipsed smoking as the top risk factor for disease and death in the U.S.

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