Sen. Harkin Hearkens: Junk Food Marketing "Out of Control"

The new Congress is likely to put new and stronger emphasis on limiting junk food marketing, say aides to U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. Harkin becomes chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee in 2007. His aides report that food marketing to children "will be one of our top tier agenda items." In recent years, Harkin futilely has sought to push through legislation toughening Federal Trade Commission authority to regulate junk food marketing. Thirty years ago, attempts to limit ads to kids based upon concerns about tooth decay failed. Since then, obesity has become a high profile issue, with the rate of overweight children more than doubling. A coalition of food makers that controls about two-thirds of food and drink ads to children under 12 has announced voluntary advertising guidelines, but "half of the ads [are] still selling junk food," says Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.