- 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 McDonalds before or after Sesame Street, a popular childrens 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 McDonalds with its popular childrens program, Sesame Street.
It is understandable why McDonalds would seek access to Sesame Streets 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.
McDonalds is the worlds 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 McDonalds 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 McDonalds 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.