'MyPyramid for Kids' a Kid-Friendly Flop, Says CSPI


September 28, 2005

The kids' version of the food pyramid is as ineffective as the adult version, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). CSPI said today that MyPyramid for Kids, like the adult MyPyramid, fails to convey the otherwise sensible advice found in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and is emblematic of an Administration that has no real commitment to improving Americans' diets.

"My Pyramid for Kids doesn't dare to discourage children from consuming so much soda, fast food, candy, and other junk foods," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Even if MyPyramid for Kids were terrific, there's no strategy to put materials in every classroom in America--they're actually only making them available upon request. It's as if they've asked Mike Brown to design a response to the obesity epidemic."

Although the Department of Agriculture trumpets the high traffic at its MyPyramid.gov web site, a search via the web service Alexa.com shows that traffic peaked immediately after the site's launch, and plummeted quickly thereafter. On a given day, traffic at web gaming sites designed to promote junk food, such as Postopia.com or Candystand.com, far outpaces traffic at MyPyramid.gov.

CSPI said that if the Administration wanted to reduce the toll of diet-related disease, it could start by aggressively promoting increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; removing soda and junk foods from schools; getting junk-food ads off children's television; and supporting legislation that would put calorie counts on fast-food menu boards. And instead of relying solely on the Internet, the government should take to the airwaves, according to CSPI.

"When McDonald's wants to reach kids, it turns to television advertising first and foremost," said Jacobson. "If government is to improve kids' eating habits it should invest hundreds of millions of dollars on television advertising promoting healthy diets. If such a campaign made even a dent in obesity or diet-related disease, it would be a windfall for American taxpayers."

 

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