The TV made them do it.
It made them “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”
CBS’s Katie Couric used the cereal slogan as she introduced a March 28 “Evening News” report. The nanny-staters were at it again, this time warning that children who like sugary cereals are “setting off alarms.”
“Parents better watch what their kids eat, or their kids will continue to eat what they watch,” said reporter Bill Whitaker.
While that might sound like a call for parental responsibility, Whitaker’s story about the Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest report was anything but. The attack on the food industry featured activists who want more government regulation of advertising – but the industry under attack was neither seen nor heard.
Instead, viewers got a bowlful of activism.
Kaiser has been attacking the food industry for some time. Back in January, CNN used an older Kaiser study  to complain about advertising to kids – and then Rideout was talking about the lack of “oversight” for the Internet, with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta chiming in that Internet ads aren’t regulated like TV ads.
Whitaker also brought on Susan Linn, “one of a chorus of critics calling for the government to ban the ads.”
Whitaker introduced Linn as a psychiatrist with
His story called for a ban on the ads and attacked the food industry, but Whitaker didn’t have anyone giving the opposing viewpoint.
The reporter mentioned in passing that “processed food makers say kids are heavier today because they’re more sedentary. Still, some have volunteered to cut back on their ads to children.”
But it’s not just food companies who suggest exercise could help overweight children. In addition to common sense, a recently released British study  found dramatic improvement in kids who added only 15 minutes a day of exercise to their lives.
In the meantime, the specter of increased regulation in the
Several companies, including McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, have voluntarily changed their advertising policies when it comes to ads aimed at kids. But Whitaker’s story didn’t mention any companies by name and quickly dismissed corporate efforts, as Linn declared, “Self-regulation has failed.”
The reporter didn’t mention the obvious fact that parents could monitor how much TV their kids are watching – and that the kids aren’t buying their own groceries, no matter how many sugary commercials they see.
The Business & Media Institute has documented the trend in news stories leaving parents out of the equation  and the media’s fondness for the flawed Body Mass Index  to address obesity in children.