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Food Marketing Guidelines: An Uncontrolled Experiment on Children
Publication by the Federal Trade Commission of guidelines on marketing food to people under 18 has been delayed. Congress is requiring that the planned guidelines be reviewed by the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) under President Obama's Executive Order 13563 on regulatory review.

The FTC has emphasized that the guidelines are and will remain voluntary. The guidelines are, of course, intended to be highly influential on marketing and purchasing decisions or the FTC, along with FDA, USDA and CDC, would not have expended considerable resources on their development.

Nutrition watchdogs are, not surprisingly, unhappy with the delay. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has an online petition campaign, Don't Let Industry Kill the Healthy Food Marketing Guidelines, which presses for release of the guidelines.

The food marketing guidelines should be a cause of outrage, but not because they are being delayed. Instead, the concern should be directed at agencies attempting to undertake a massive uncontrolled experiment on America's children without appropriate safeguards for human research subjects.

The greatest concern about the guidelines is that is they may lead to significantly elevated cardiac risk factors. Specifically, one of the guidelines' goals is reducing sodium consumption. The problem, however, is that the most recent peer reviewed research links reduced sodium intake with increased levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.

The study in the American Journal of Hypertension, a meta-analysis of 167 studies, found that "sodium reduction resulted in a significant increase in plasma cholesterol (2.5%) and plasma triglyceride (7%), which expressed in percentage, was numerically larger than the decrease in" blood pressure.

Even more disturbing, the study also found that "reduced sodium intake seems to harm patients with heart insufficiency and diabetes type 1 and 2. In all three patient groups reduced sodium intake is associated with increased mortality." Thus, adherence to the government's planned guidelines could increase mortality among vulnerable population segments.

OIRA, using their authority under the Executive Order and the Data Quality Act, needs to ensure that children are protected from well-intentioned but potentially dangerous experiments.

See CSPI Online Petition

See "Effects of Low-Sodium Diet vs. High-Sodium Diet on Blood Pressure, Renin, Aldosterone, Catecholamines, Cholesterol, and Triglyceride (Cochrane Review)"

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