From League of Fans, January 25, 2005:

Over the last 20 years, rates of obesity have doubled in children and tripled in teens and there is a nationwide movement against the junk food and vending machine industries for their roles in this epidemic. Lynn Swann was hired by the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) to help push a plan to place labels ranking the nutritional value of vending-machine products in an attempt to beat back efforts by parents and public health groups to curb the sale and marketing of junk food in public schools. This public relations ploy is called the Snackwise Nutrition Rating System and is being promoted as a “national campaign to fight childhood obesity.”

“A presidential appointee whose primary job is to promote physical fitness has no business cutting financial deals with an industry that is peddling junk food,” said Merrill Goozner of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). “It is a gross conflict of interest. His job is to do just the opposite. His job is to get the junk food out of kids daily diets because it is a major contributor to childhood obesity which is growing at epidemic proportions in this country.”

“We knew that [Swann] was with the President’s Council,” NAMA spokesperson Jackie Clark said. “That matched our message very nicely. But Lynn Swann asked us not to mention his relationship because it would look like an endorsement from the President’s Council. And he is doing this as an individual.” But NAMA’s press advisory for the event identified him as the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

Michael Jacobson, the executive director for CSPI, wrote a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson to urge President Bush to fire Swann and to dismiss any other council members who take junk food money. “An appointment to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports is a great honor,” Jacobson wrote. “Surely we can reserve it just for those athletes and others who choose not to profit financially through affiliations with makers and distributors of junk foods.”

It is the position of League of Fans that schools should help parents promote health, fitness and good nutrition, rather than support junk food companies that target children with products high in added sugar and fat. School lunch programs should be fully funded and should make healthful food available to children. The marketing and sale of junk food should be prohibited on school property. We discourage sports personalities from paid endorsements for unhealthful products, especially for those marketed to children and those marketed in schools.

More Information:

Nutrition Watchdogs Urge Firing of Lynn Swann
Center for Science in the Public Interest – January 13, 2005

Michael Jacobson Wants Bush to Fire Lynn Swann
Corporate Crime Reporter – January 13, 2005

Guidelines for Marketing Food to Kids Proposed
Center for Science in the Public Interest

Childhood Obesity Prevention Agenda for States, Municipalities and School Boards
Commercial Alert

Parents’ Bill of Rights (PDF)
Commercial Alert

The Fast Food Trap: How Commercialism Creates Overweight Children
Gary Ruskin, Mothering – November/December 2003


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