Clark Rector Jr., Executive Vice President–Government Affairs
Developments in Food Advertising Issues
According to a new study published in the journal Obesity, rates of childhood obesity in the United States haven’t declined in any age group for the past 15 years. The researchers say they used the most recent CDC National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data to study childhood obesity rates from 1999 to 2014, and concluded there hasn’t been a significant drop—even among children ages two to five—and severe obesity rates have increased. The findings counter a Center for Disease Control study published in 2014, which is cited by the White House, that found a decline in obesity rates among preschool-aged children between 2003-2012.
Bill Dietz, a former CDC official who now leads the Summer M. Redstone Global Center for Obesity Prevention and Wellness at George Washington University, in a commentary in the same journal counters that there was a significant decline in the prevalence of obesity for young children based on 2003-2012 and 2013-2014 data. However, analyzing the data starting in 1999 it’s a different picture. According to Dietz, “Although the two studies appear contradictory, neither analysis is incorrect.”
North of the border, the Toronto Board of Health voted to seek federal support to ban commercial marketing to children aged 16 and under. The goal is to fight obesity by protecting children from exposure to unhealthy eating habits.
AAF Asks FCC for More Time
The American Advertising Federation has joined with a broad variety of interests to request that the Federal Communications Commission grant an additional 60 days to prepare comments responding its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding privacy issues.
The NPRM is 147 pages long and raises more than 500 questions for comment. Replies are currently due May 27.
If adopted, Internet providers would need to seek explicit permission from customers before sharing their data with third parties, including marketers and advertisers, greatly limiting their ability to provide third party advertising. Internet providers would be regulated like telephone providers. The rules would not directly affect online services like Google and Facebook.
The NPRM is possible because of the Commission’s recently enacted rules on net neutrality, which are currently being challenged in court.
Generally speaking, the AAF believes these issues are best addressed through a strong self-regulatory regime, such as the AAF-supported Digital Advertising Alliance. However, when government intervention is needed, we believe the Federal Trade Commission is the appropriate agency given their long history and expertise with privacy matters.
Tax Plan Expected in June
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, has said he intends to unveil his plan to overhaul the federal tax code in June. The proposal is to be a part of the Congressional Republicans’ plan to formulate an economic agenda prior to the 2016 elections.
Chairman Brady said a number of approaches are still on the table, including that of former Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., which would have lowered the corporate tax rate to 25% in exchange for doing away with many deductions and preferences in the current tax code. The Camp plan would have limited the first year deduction for advertising expenses to 50% with the remaining amortized over ten years.
FDA to Look at Animation
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is soliciting comments on a proposal to collect information and conduct research entitled “Animation in Direct-to-Consumer Advertising.” The FDA wants to examine how animation affects the comprehension of direct-to-consumer (DTC) television advertisements for prescription drugs. In a potentially relevant case, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel (1985) found that rules prohibiting the use of illustrations in attorney advertising were unconstitutional under the First Amendment protections for commercial speech.
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