Myrie, Advocates Rally Against Predatory Junk Food Marketing

Zellnor Myrie

March 1, 2023

Albany— Today Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Central Brooklyn) joined Assembly Member Karines Reyes (D-Bronx) and nutrition advocates from across New York State to urge passage of the Predatory Marketing Prevention Act, S.213 / A.4424This bill takes aim at an industry that spends billions targeting young people with advertising for unhealthy food, leading to major health disparities and shortened lifespans.

“New York has never hesitated to restrict misleading or false product advertising, especially when it comes to harmful or unhealthy products that are specifically marketed to kids," said Senator Myrie. "Junk food is no different. The ad campaigns don't mention it, but these foods contribute to lifelong health disparities in communities like mine."

"Families in New York and around the country are faced with the difficult task of trying to navigate a challenging food environment, that works against us with aggressive, targeted marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks," said Dr. DeAnna Nara, senior policy scientist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Parents need more tools in the toolbox to protect children from that kind of predatory food marketing. That’s why the Center for Science in the Public Interest stands in strong support of the Predatory Marketing Prevention Act introduced today in the New York state legislature."

"The issue with fast food and sugary beverage ads is that they give false information or use flashy characters to sell the product and don't prioritize nutritional information," said Rashaun Buchanan of the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center. "Examples of this are when certain drinks use big words like organic but contain over 30 grams of sugar, or when companies claim to provide chances to win the newest game or see the latest movie. If we compare our neighborhoods in the South Bronx to those in more wealthier neighborhoods we see that the quality of food where we live is definitely less and the quantity of unhealthy food is way more. And that is why we need the Predatory Marketing Prevention Act to help our kids make the right decisions when it comes to choosing what they eat and to stop being tricked by these big companies' tactics."

The PMPA will expand the definition of "false and misleading" advertising, already illegal under State law, to include unhealthy food ads specifically aimed at children.

Nearly one-third of New York's children are obese or overweight, causing health disparities and shortened lifespans. These problems are most pronounced in communities of color. Unhealthy food companies pour billions into research and marketing, targeting advertising of their products to young people.

Research shows children are especially susceptible to marketing tactics because they are still forming their personal preferences and habits, are less likely to practice restraint and can easily become addicted to the immediate satisfaction of eating unhealthy food.

Joining today's rally in support of the PMPA were representatives from GrowNYC, SEIU 1199, Bronx Health REACH, Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, La Coalicion Mexicana, the Mexican Coalition for the Empowerment of Youth and Families, The Senegalese Association of America, Interfaith Public Health Network, Mt. Zion CME Church (Bronx) and The NY Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action.

"Huge corporations selling unhealthy food figured out long ago the most effective ways to target their messages directly to kids," concluded Senator Myrie. 

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