How foods are marketed to children is among the top 5 areas of concern among 800 recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on how to fight the growing American obesity epidemic.
The IOM is using the term "leanwashing" to describe ways in which food companies market foods in ways that are misleading about their nutritional content. Labeling cookies, breakfast cereals, or drinks as "nutrient-rich," for example, is frowned upon by the recommendations because it suggests that a nutrient-fortified cookie is a "healthy" snack.
Bruce Bradley, a former food marketing insider, teamed up with the IOM and a number of medical professionals to create the "Leanwashing Index" to help parents make smart food choices for their families. From an IOM statement:
Says Bradley, who has worked for Nabisco, Pillsbury and General Mills, "It's no secret advertisers are not going to look out for consumer's health. It's time for consumers to take control and go beyond what they see on TV or on the front of the package."
"With pizza considered a vegetable for school lunches, and the voluntary guidelines for food marketing to children stalled out in Washington, we know consumers need something now to help them scrutinize some of the bogus 'health' claims that abound in food and product advertising." said EnviroMedia co-founder and CEO Davis.
Image: Package of cookies, via Shutterstock