2 SLOWING DOWN FAST FOOD

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SLOWING DOWN FAST FOOD




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                               SLOWING DOWN
                                 FAST FOOD:
                               A policy guide for
                           healthier kids and families




                                         BY MONICA GAGNON AND NICHOLAS FREUDENBERG, DrPH
                                           CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT HUNTER COLLEGE
CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY INTERNATIONAL              AND CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY INTERNATIONAL | 2012
SLOWING DOWN
FAST FOOD:
A policy guide for healthier kids and families




Corporate Accountability International                              Value [the] Meal
is a membership organization with a 35-year track                   is a Corporate Accountability International
record that protects human rights, public health,                   campaign that will reduce the harm and human
and the environment from corporate greed and                        suffering caused by the fast food industry, protect
abuse around the world.                                             our children and future generations from the
                                                                    corporate-driven epidemic of diet-related
                                                                    diseases, and help transform the food system.




Authors                                                             Acknowledgements
Monica Gagnon is a research associate at the City                   The authors thank the following individuals
University of New York School of Public Health at                   for their contributions to this report: Jan
Hunter College.                                                     Poppendieck, Lauren Dinour, Kimberly Libman
                                                                    and Emma K. Tsui at City University of New
Nicholas Freudenberg is Distinguished Professor
                                                                    York, and the staff of Corporate Accountability
of Public Health and Director of the Doctor of
                                                                    International. Any errors are the responsibility
Public Health Program at City University of New
                                                                    of the authors and the opinions expressed in
York School of Public Health at Hunter College. He
                                                                    this guide are those of the authors, not their
is also founder and director of Corporations and
                                                                    employers or any other institution.
Health Watch (www.corporationsandhealth.org).


Gagnon M, Freudenberg N. and Corporate Accountability International--Slowing Down Fast Food: A policy guide for healthier kids
and families. Boston, MA: Corporate Accountability International, 2012. Available at: www.StopCorporateAbuse.org
     ACTION GUIDE: Take on fast food and promote healthier kids and families.




TABLE OF CONTENTS




                                                                                                                       SLOWING DOWN FAST FOOD
2       EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

4       HOW THE FAST FOOD INDUSTRY HARMS HEALTH

6            Corporations, communities, food and health
                                                                                                                             1
6            The global fast food industry

9            The fast food industry uses its political influence to protect irresponsible marketing

11           Strategies to change fast food practices

12      REDUCING FAST FOOD'S INFLUENCE IN SCHOOLS

15           Case Study: St. Paul public schools

17      REDUCING FAST FOOD'S INFLUENCE THROUGH ZONING AND OTHER MEASURES

20           Case Study: Los Angeles fast food moratorium

22           Case Study: Parkland Memorial Hospital

23      REDUCING FAST FOOD'S INFLUENCE ON CHILDREN BY REGULATING TOY
        GIVEAWAYS AND OTHER PROMOTIONAL ACTIVITIES

26           Case Study: San Francisco Healthy Meals Incentive Ordinance

29      REDUCING FAST'S FOOD INFLUENCE BY ENDING PUBLIC SUBSIDIES PLUS
        THREE OTHER STRATEGIES

31           Other strategies

31              Counter-advertising

31              Taxing unhealthy food

31              Calorie labeling, warning labels and other nutrition information

33      CONCLUSION

34      ACTIONS TO REDUCE FAST FOOD CORPORATIONS' INFLUENCE ON THE
        HEALTH OF YOUR COMMUNITY

36      ACTION GUIDE

43      ENDNOTES




                                                                                       CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY INTERNATIONAL
                          EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
 SLOWING DOWN FAST FOOD




                          It's been ten years since the journalist Eric Schlosser published his best-selling
                          book, "Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal," educating millions
                          and inspiring numerous others to further expose the food industry's underbelly.
                          And yet, with a few exceptions, the All-American Meal seems darker than ever.
     2                    With 2010 revenues of more than $180 billion, the fast food industry is a powerful force in our economy.
                          Corporations such as McDonald's, Yum! Brands (owner of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut), Burger King and
                          Wendy's engage in business practices that undermine the health and well-being of communities.

                          By now, most of us have heard the gloomy health statistics. Millions of people across the United States suffer
                          needlessly from diet-related conditions, putting an increasing burden on our already broken health care
                          system. And, kids are especially targeted by the likes of McDonald's, through toys, playgrounds and other
                          tactics that exploit children's unique vulnerabilities.

                                                                                                    But this report isn't just about the gloom and doom.
                                                                                                    The good news is we have numerous policy tools at
                                                                                                    our disposal that can help reduce the negative impact
                                                                                                    of fast food in our communities. While things may seem
                                                                                                    hopeless in Congress these days, local action provides
                                                                                                    many feasible and effective solutions.

                                                                                                     This report focuses on four local policy approaches and
                                                                                                     includes case studies and challenges for each. While
                                                                                                     this is not an exhaustive list, these ideas have some
                                                                                                     track record of success and show the most promise at
                                                                                                     the local level. The four approaches are: school policy,
                          Fast food saturates communities throughout the U.S. including this busy   "healthy" zoning, curbing kid-focused marketing, and
                          street in Los Angeles.
                                                                                                    redirecting subsidies to healthier businesses.

                          For years now, schools have become a focal point for change. Schools should be a place where children are
                          free from corporate marketing. And yet across America, schools are succumbing to economic pressures and
                          opening their cafeteria doors to corporations such as Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. But many parents, teachers and
                          even school administrators are taking a stand by setting strong policies to keep fast food corporations out of
                          the learning environment.

                          Of course, once kids leave school, they are also bombarded with fast food marketing in their communities.
                          Research suggests that low-income neighborhoods have disproportionately higher concentrations of fast food
                          outlets. But it doesn't have to be that way. Local cities and counties are standing up for the health of their
                          residents through various policy approaches. For example, zoning laws can restrict the number of fast food
                          outlets, as well as encourage economic development that is beneficial--not detrimental--to public health.

                          Because kids lack the judgment of adults and are potential new life-long customers, fast food marketers have
                          targeted children. Toys are by far the most popular form of marketing to children by fast food corporations.
                          According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, in 2006 the food industry spent $360 million purchasing toys,



CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY INTERNATIONAL
                                                                                                                                                           SLOWING DOWN FAST FOOD
which came with 36 percent of all fast food meals served to kids that same year. Some cities and counties are
responding by placing specific limits on this exploitative practice. The strategy presents an opportunity to
organize community members to oppose fast food outlets more generally.

While we've seen much attention devoted to how federal agricultural subsidies support all the wrong foods,
little focus has been directed toward subsidies at the local level. Indeed, state and local tax breaks as well as                                              3
other business incentives help fuel fast food expansion. Communities can demand such economic development
policies be redirected from supporting damaging fast food toward more health-promoting foods.

                                                                                           Several additional local strategies gaining
                                                                                           traction include: counter-marketing
                                                                                           (initiatives that offer nutritional messages
                                                                                           that contrast with the well-financed ad
                                                                                           campaigns for a range of unhealthful
                                                                                           brands) and taxing unhealthy foods and
                                                                                           beverages. Other ideas listed in this
                                                                                           guide may inspire your own solutions.

                                                                                           This report and its companion Action
                                                                                           Guide offer specific, practical guidance
                                                                                           for putting these ideas into action, as
                                                                                           well as additional resources from the
                                                                                           numerous other organizations engaged in
                                                                                           protecting our health from unscrupulous
Ronald McDonald epitomizes McDonald's suite of tactics used to market the brand to kids.
This predatory marketing targets kids to hook them for life.
                                                                                           fast food corporations.

While no single community or organization can take on everything in this report, each of us can choose one
activity to help protect the health of our communities. It is our responsibility not only to raise our children
in a healthy home but to advocate a healthier food environment for them to grow up in. Together, we can
effectively challenge the fast food industry's negative impact on public health.

                   MICHELE SIMON
                   Author of "Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines
                   Our Health and How to Fight Back" and Advisory Board member,
                   Corporate Accountability International




                                                                                                                           CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY INTERNATIONAL
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