- The Washington Times - Friday, August 12, 2011

I am in total agreement with Beth Johnson’s Aug. 8 Commentary column, “Enough to make you lose your appetite.” Proposed restrictions on food marketing, designed by a government interagency working group, have little, if any, rationale considering the food they would end up targeting.

Focusing entirely on sodium, potassium and sugar content, these guidelines disregard calorie counts and would regulate foods that are largely considered to be healthy. It is ridiculous that under these guidelines, foods such as peanut butter, low-fat yogurt and bottled water couldn’t be marketed to children.

Thanks to these proposed “voluntary” guidelines, our economy could lose another 74,000 jobs - hardly welcome news with the unemployment rate hovering above 9 percent and more than 14 million people out of work.

In addition to the regulatory alternatives offered by Ms. Johnson, taxpayer dollars would be much better spent on incentives for the private sector to build grocery stores and farmers markets in underserved communities. Families in those communities, struggling to make ends meet, rarely have access to anything but neighborhood convenience stores that stock candy, soda and microwave-ready, prepackaged food.

As students are getting ready to go back to school, the government needs to establish programs to teach parents how to budget for and prepare affordable, healthy lunches for their children and re-establish daily physical education for kindergarten through 12th-grade. Physical education currently is required in just five states.

MICHELLE BERNARD

President and CEO

Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy

Washington