Alert: Food Advertising Deductibility Threat

October 30, 2009

To: All AAF Members
From: Clark Rector, Executive Vice President-Government Affairs
Re: Food Advertising Deductibility Threat

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, has sent a “Dear Colleague” to other members of Congress soliciting cosponsors for legislation he plans to introduce to “eliminate the tax deductibility of fast food and junk food advertising directed at children.”

As you know, deductibility for DTC advertising has been under fire this year in the health care debate. The Kucinich proposal reinforces our contention that pharmaceuticals were only the first step and all advertising is at risk. Be assured that the AAF will do everything in our power to insure that advertising for all products remains fully deductible as a normal and necessary business expense.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any comments or questions.

Don't Subsidize Childhood Obesity
From: The Honorable Dennis J. Kucinich
Date: 10/28/2009

Dear Colleague:
Research clearly shows that childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in this country. As we develop programs to combat childhood obesity, we must also examine the root causes of this problem. The effect of advertising on youth, especially advertising of fast food and junk food, has long been a concern of mine. The Institute of Medicine estimates that in 2004 approximately $10 billion was spent on food advertising directed at children, using every method available--television, radio, the internet, even embedded in video games. Simply put, marketing to children works--companies would not make such a substantial investment if it were ineffective.1 Marketing directed at youth is extremely well constructed and relies heavily on behavioral science. The developing brain of the child cannot discriminate fact from opinion; cannot think critically; and cannot yet fully understand abstract thinking. This makes no difference to food advertisers, who exploit this using cartoons, cross branding with popular toys, giveaways, and myriad other methods to develop brand loyalty and shape judgment as early as possible, knowing that those affinities are the most enduring. Astonishingly, the federal government subsidizes this methodical preying on children by granting a tax write-off for expenses associated with it. This must stop. The government must take action to protect American children and ensure that they grow up in a healthy environment. For this reason will be introducing legislation that would eliminate the tax deductibility of fast food and junk food advertising directed at children. I invite you to join me as a cosponsor of this legislation. There is precedent: approximately 50 countries, including Sweden, Norway, Australia, and Great Britain, have limited or prohibited food advertising directed at youth. Additionally, recent research has concluded that eliminating the tax deductibility of food advertising directed at youth would reduce obesity among youth.2 For more information or to cosponsor, please contact Tom Mulloy in my office at 5-5871 or

Sincerely,/s/Dennis J.
Kucinich Member of Congress

1Institute of Medicine (2006).
Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity? National Academies Press.
2Chou, S., Rashad, I. & Grossman, M. (2008). "Fast Food Restaurant
Advertising on Television and Its Influence on Childhood Obesity."
Journal of Law and Economics, 51(4), 599-618.