Turning great ideas into healthier communities


PHI and BMSG Statement on In-School Marketing Guidelines

February 25, 2014

Statement by Lori Dorfman, DrPH, MPH, Director, Berkeley Media Studies Group

The Public Health Institute and PHI’s Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) applaud the White House and USDA’s announcement of bold new guidelines to eliminate the marketing of junk food and sugary drinks in schools. The proposed rules, part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Lets Move” initiative, will help to strengthen school wellness policies, support children’s health, and ensure that schools are a place of learning, not a customer-recruiting tool for food and beverage companies.

Yet, today, that’s exactly what they have become: According to a national survey, most schools contain marketing for foods that are high in fat or sugar. In 2009 alone, food companies spent $150 million on in-school marketing, such as vending machines, ads on school buses and scoreboards, branded sports uniforms, and corporate-sponsored school supplies. Research shows that such marketing affects what kids are willing to eat and can influence their diets and health into adulthood.

As the First Lady noted, schools "should be healthy places where kids are not bombarded with ads for junk food." The proposed regulations underscore the government’s essential role in protecting kids’ health. PHI and BMSG have a long history of working to build a healthier world for children, and we strongly support the new standards.

About Berkeley Media Studies Group 
Berkeley Media Studies Group researches the way public health issues are characterized in the media and helps community groups, journalists and advocates use the media to advance healthy public policy. Lori Dorfman co-chairs the Food Marketing Workgroup, a national coalition dedicated to eliminating harmful food marketing. BMSG is a project of the Public Health Institute.