Fox's War On Health Continues

Fox has continued to ramp up its ongoing war on health in recent weeks, attacking initiatives that encourage kids to exercise and discourage unhealthy behavior, even going so far as to attack a plan to decrease unhealthy foods at New York City Health Department events.

Fox Freaks Out Over NYC Push To Make Kids' Fast Food Meals Healthier

Fox & Friends Freaks Out Over NYC Considering Ban On Toys In Fast Food Kids' Meals “Unless They Meet Nutritional Guidelines.” The April 6 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends featured several segments attacking a New York City councilman's proposal to ban toys from McDonald's Happy Meals and other fast food meals with kids' toys unless they meet certain nutritional standards. San Francisco passed a similar ban on unhealthy fast food kids' meals with toys in November 2010. From the broadcast:

GRETCHEN CARLSON (co-host): All right, what do you think about this? New York now may become the second city -- San Francisco already did this -- to ban Happy Meal toys unless they meet nutritional guidelines. So they would have to be -- the meal would have to be under 500 calories in order to get the toy.

BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): And look at the person who is trying to make this law. His name is Leroy Comrie, and he looks determined. You're about to see him. Those are a bunch of toys. There's Leo -- Leroy, sorry. Leroy. So he is determined to take toys out of McDonald's.

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): And I believe in one of the newspapers here in New York this morning, he says, look, you know, I'm 335 pounds. I have struggled with my weight. I think he says that he ate Happy Meals when he was a kid as well. Nonetheless, he thinks this is a way to break the back of childhood obesity.

CARLSON: Wait a minute, so another part of that story is he also served his kids Happy Meals the entire time that they grew up. OK, whatever happened --

DOOCY: I think we all gave our kids Happy Meals.

CARLSON: But, I mean, OK, it's one thing to do that in your life, and then turn around afterwards --

KILMEADE: After your kids are grown up.

CARLSON: -- and say, OK, wait a minute, I did it for my kids, but you can't do it for yours. Come on, give me a break. And by the way, whatever happened to parental responsibility? I mean, moderation.

DOOCY: Right, exactly. And that's why they don't need a rule cracking down on Happy Meal toys, because the parents go, OK, we're going to go once this week or once this month, that's enough. But to have big brother come in with the food police, whatever it is.

KILMEADE: Big Leroy, in this case.


KILMEADE: But here's the deal, you could go to McDonald's. They redid their business plan about eight years ago, and you can eat healthy, and you can get a salad. And how many 5-year-olds will sit in the back and go, Mom, can I just go to McDonald's and get a Caesar salad? Kids will love it. And you get a toy.

CARLSON: And here's the thing. As a responsible parent, you can also say, kids, your choice with the burger or the chicken is the apple slices. Duh. I mean, come on, this is about parents taking control and stop blaming everyone else in life for your problems.

KILMEADE: Right. And then grab a shake. And then it's a deal.

CARLSON: In moderation.

KILMEADE: Exactly.

DOOCY: We just need less government, not more. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/6/11; CNN, 11/9/10]

But As Carlson Noted, Ban Would Only Apply To Meals Over 500 Calories -- Which Is Up To 40 Percent Of Children's Recommended Daily Calorie Intake. As Carlson noted, Comrie's proposed ban would only apply to children's meals exceeding 500 calories. As CBS New York reported:

San Francisco's already done it, and now New York may follow suit. New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie thinks the city should consider a ban on “Happy Meals” and similar fast food promotions aimed at kids unless those meals meet certain nutritional standards.

Comrie planned to introduce his own bill Wednesday that would essentially rewrite what could currently be considered a “Happy Meal.” The bill would require establishments that offer toys with food make sure the meals are 500 calories or less and have low fat and low sodium totals.

The American Heart Association dietary guidelines for children aged 4 to 8 recommend a daily calorie intake of 1,200 calories for girls and 1,400 for boys. Following that guideline, the proposed 500-calorie limit would cap Happy Meals at 41 percent and 36 percent of total recommended calories for girls and boys, respectively. [CBS New York, 4/6/11; AHA, accessed 4/6/11]

Fox Attacks Michelle Obama's Promotion Of Children's Fitness At Easter Egg Roll

Ingraham Attacks Obama White House Over Egg Roll's “Get Up And Go” Theme. During the March 30 edition of Fox & Friends, guest and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham attacked the White House for tying this year's Easter Egg Roll to Michelle Obama's “Let's Move” campaign. Ingraham said:

INGRAHAM: I think the slogan for this Easter Egg Roll, you know, forget the whole thing about “He is risen” -- it's all, the slogan is “Get up and go.” So “Let's Move” manages to find its own iteration and its own branding in every other holiday, Christian holiday, whatever. It's all tied to the Let's Move campaign. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/30/11]

But Secular Theme Not Unique To Obama White House; Bush Easter Egg Roll In 2008 Had “Ocean Conservation” Theme. As Media Matters has documented, the Egg Roll is a secular, family event that often has a secondary non-Easter theme. For example, in 2008, the Bush White House declared that that year's theme would be “the importance of ocean conservation.” [Media Matters, 3/30/11]

Fox Mocks FDA Investigation Of Additive's Impact On Children's Health

Fox Nation Twists Announcement Of FDA Review To Claim Obama Is “Cracking Down On Jell-O.” On March 30, Fox News' blog Fox Nation posted a link to a New York Times story about a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assessment of artificial food colorings under the headline, “Obama Cracking Down on Jell-O.” From Fox Nation:


[Fox Nation, 3/30/11]

But Times Article Shows FDA Was “Ask[ing] A Panel Of Experts” To Advise On Possible “Warning Labels On Food” With Artificial Coloring. The excerpt from the New York Times article that the Fox Nation includes, however, notes that “the federal government is for the first time publicly reassessing whether foods like Jell-O, Lucky Charms cereal and Minute Maid Lemonade should carry warnings that the bright artificial colorings in them worsen behavior problems like hyperactivity in some children.” The article continues:

The Food and Drug Administration concluded long ago that there was no definitive link between the colorings and behavior or health problems, and the agency is unlikely to change its mind any time soon. But on Wednesday and Thursday, the F.D.A. will ask a panel of experts to review the evidence and advise on possible policy changes, which could include warning labels on food.

The hearings signal that the growing list of studies suggesting a link between artificial colorings and behavioral changes in children has at least gotten regulators' attention -- and, for consumer advocates, that in itself is a victory.

In a concluding report, staff scientists from the F.D.A. wrote that while typical children might be unaffected by the dyes, those with behavioral disorders might have their conditions “exacerbated by exposure to a number of substances in food, including, but not limited to, synthetic color additives.” [The New York Times, 3/29/11]

FDA Panel Rejected Food-Dye Warnings. From The Wall Street Journal:

A Food and Drug Administration panel in an 8-to-6 vote advised the FDA that warning labels aren't needed over a possible link between artificial food dye and hyperactivity, but said more studies need to be done.

The panel of 14-voting members also voted on Thursday to say that they found no fundamental relationship between hyperactivity and food dye. The panel said the elimination of dyes in children's diets might at times be a good idea but shouldn't be used broadly as a treatment of hyperactivity. [The Wall Street Journal, 4/1/11]

Fox Even Attacks NYC Health Department For Promoting Healthy Eating

Fox & Friends Mock NYC Health Dept. For Issuing Health Guidelines. On the April 4 edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts responded to a story that the New York City Health Department issued health guidelines for its workers, which included banning deep-fried foods from being served at work events, by mocking the decision and referring to the department as the “food police.” Doocy listed some of the rules and asked, “How crazy is that?” while Kilmeade said, “Can you imagine being suspended because of three chocolate glazed donuts? Sorry honey, I've been furloughed -- too many calories.” Carlson admitted: “I mean, they're saying -- they're saying that they're doing this because they have to practice what they preach, and you can just imagine that if we found out that they were serving nothing but cake at the Health Department, we'd be talking about it the next morning. So maybe they're -- I mean, I don't know. It's so crazy.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/4/11]

NYDN: “Health Honchos Say They Are Just Practicing What They Preach.” From the New York Daily News:

[These are new edicts] for employees of the same city Health Department that brought you calorie-counting menus and snuffed out smoking on beaches and in parks.

The updated rules -- which range from what workers can serve at agency powwows to how loud they can talk in the office -- come as the Health Department begins to move into its new Queens digs today.


Tap water is a menu must when food or drinks are served. Other beverages must be less than 25 calories per 8 ounces.

“Cut muffins and bagels into halves or quarters, or order mini sizes. Offer thinly-sliced, whole-grain bread,” the brochure states.

Deep-fried foods are an absolute no-no and “cannot be served.”

For celebrations, cake and air-popped popcorn - “popped at the party and served in brown paper lunch bags” - are allowed.

But when a “celebration cake” is served, cookies can't be offered.

“These standards are mandatory for meetings and events sponsored by the Health Department,” the brochure states.

Health honchos say they are just practicing what they preach.

“The Health Department is leading by example by updating its guidelines for food and beverages served at agency meetings and events,” spokeswoman Erin Brady said. [New York Daily News, 4/4/11]

Fox Regularly Attacks Promotions Of Healthy Behavior

Fox Invents A “Ban On Bake Sales” At Schools. On the December 6, 2010, edition of Fox & Friends, the co-hosts repeatedly mocked one provision of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which Michelle Obama praised and campaigned for as part of her push to reduce childhood obesity, and claimed it would “ban bake sales.” Fox Business host Andrew Napolitano also repeated this false claim during the December 6, 2010, edition of his show Freedom Watch. In fact, as Media Matters documented, the bill could place limits on the number of bake sales held during school hours, but it does not “ban” bake sales. [Media Matters, 12/6/10, 12/6/10]

Fox Uses Signing Of Childhood Obesity Bill To Attack Healthy Eating. After the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was signed into law on December 12, 2010, Fox News hosts used the bill's passage to attack Michelle Obama for her comments about the dangers of childhood obesity. On the December 14, 2010, edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade derided Obama's comment that childhood obesity is a “national security threat” -- but, in fact, she was quoting military leaders, who have indeed said 27 percent of U.S. young adults would fail military physical exams because they are overweight. In the same show, guest Laura Ingraham said, “We don't have the money for this [bill],” but in fact, the bill is fully paid for. Glenn Beck also repeatedly mocked the bill on the December 14, 2010, edition of his radio show. [Media Matters, 12/14/10]

Fox Repeatedly Attacks Michelle Obama For Fighting Childhood Obesity. As Media Matters has documented, Fox hosts have devoted many segments to attacking Michelle Obama for her effort to reduce childhood obesity. On the September 14, 2010, edition of his Fox News show, Beck suggested the first lady's initiative would lead to imprisonment for eating french fries. Host Sean Hannity also mocked Michelle Obama's efforts and claimed that soon the government will be “fining us if we use salt” on the September 14, 2010, edition of his Fox News show. [Media Matters, 9/17/10]