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OCTOBER 13, 2003
9:28 AM
CONTACT: Commercial Alert
Gary Ruskin (503) 235-8012
Obesity Experts, Child Advocates Ask Sesame Street Not to Advertise for McDonald's
WASHINGTON - October 13 - Today, a coalition of obesity experts, health professionals and child advocates sent a letter to Gary Knell, president and chief executive officer of Sesame Workshop, asking him not to show “sponsorship messages” for McDonald’s before or after Sesame Street, a popular children’s TV program.

The letter was written and organized by Commercial Alert, a nonprofit organization that protects children and communities from commercialism. The letter follows.

Dear Mr. Knell:

As you know, the Sesame Workshop has begun showing “sponsorship messages” for McDonald’s with its popular children’s program, Sesame Street.

It is understandable why McDonald’s would seek access to Sesame Street’s audience of impressionable young children. But why you would deliver these children to the corporation is another question. Parents entrust their children to you because they believe you are trustworthy. We doubt that enticing kids with junk food is part of that trust.

McDonald’s is the world’s largest fast food chain. It pushes exactly the kinds of high calorie offerings that have helped to cause an epidemic of childhood obesity and soaring incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Regrettably, Sesame Street has now become yet another advertising vehicle for McDonald’s to hook a new generation of children on its high calorie junk food.

Is it really the proper role of Sesame Street to seduce young children to nag their parents to take them to McDonalds? Should you not promote healthful eating habits rather than junk food eating habits? Which do you think the parents who entrust their children to you would prefer?

We ask you to remove these McDonald’s “sponsorship messages” from Sesame Street immediately.


Enola G. Aird, Director, The Motherhood Project, Institute for American Values

Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, Professor and Chair of Psychology, Yale University; Director, Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders; author, Food Fight

Brian A. Burt, Professor, Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan; Director, Program in Dental Public Health

Brita Butler-Wall, PhD, Executive Director, Citizens' Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, EdD, Professor of Child Development, Lesley University

Greg Critser, author, Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World

Ronnie Cummins, National Director, Organic Consumers Association

Donald R. Davis, PhD, Research Associate in Nutrition, Biochemical Institute, University of Texas

Leon Eisenberg, MD, Professor of Social Medicine and Psychiatry Emeritus, Harvard Medical School

Erica Frank, MD, MPH, Vice Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine; Emory University School of Medicine

Marnie Glickman, Co-chair, U.S. Green Party

Joan Gussow, EdD, M. S. Rose Professor Emeritus, Nutrition and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

Jane M. Healy, author, Failure to Connect and Endangered Minds

Michael Jacobson, Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest

Sut Jhally, Founder and Executive Director, The Media Education Foundation

David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, Associate Clinical Professor of Public Health & Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine; Director, Yale Prevention Research Center

Francine Kaufman, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

Jean Kilbourne, author, Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel

Velma LaPoint, PhD, Associate Professor of Child Development, School of Education, Howard University

Frances Moore Lappe, author, Diet for a Small Planet, co-author, Hope's Edge

Diane Levin, Professor of Education, Wheelock College, author, Remote Control Childhood

Robert McChesney, Research Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; author, Rich Media, Poor Democracy

Jim Metrock, President, Obligation, Inc.

Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media Ecology, New York University

Alex Molnar, Professor of Education Policy, Arizona State University; Director, Education Policy Studies Laboratory; author, Giving Kids the Business

Diane M. Morrison, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, School of Social Work, University of Washington

Robert K. Musil, PhD, MPH, Executive Director and CEO, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University; author, Food Politics and Safe Food

Harold Pollack, PhD, Associate Professor of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago

Eric Rimm, ScD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health

Vicki Robin, coauthor, Your Money or Your Life

Gary Ruskin, Executive Director, Commercial Alert

Donald Shifrin, MD, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine

Victor Strasburger, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine; co-author, Children, Adolescents, & the Media

V. Susan Villani, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins Medical School

Commercial Alert is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy.

Commercial Alert has more than 2000 members, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.


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