Dr Margo Wootan

Vice President for Nutrition, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)

Margo Wootan was recognized as one of the Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink by Fortune Magazine and for her leadership in public policy by the Harvard School of Public Health.  She has successfully led national efforts to require calorie labeling in fast-food restaurants and trans-fat labeling on packaged foods, to improve school foods, reduce junk-food marketing aimed at children, and expand nutrition and physical activity programs at CDC.  She is quoted regularly in the nation’s major media and appeared in the movies Super Size Me and Fed Up. Wootan received her BS in nutrition from Cornell University and her doctorate in nutrition from Harvard University’s School of Public Health.

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The big picture… Is the food industry helping or hindering parents?

Food and restaurant companies assert that it is primarily up to parents to decide what to feed their children.  While at the same time, they bombard children with $2 billion worth of food marketing through advertising, in schools, advergaming on the Internet, contests, and characters on everything from cracker boxes to clothing.  Grocery stores and other retailers drive purchases through where products are placed, sales promotions, displays, and signage.  Unhealthy food marketing puts children’s health at risk, according to the National Academies of Sciences.

Parents’ interest in healthy eating for their children is at an all-time high, yet all too often, advertising, children’s menus, the ubiquity of unhealthy food and beverages, portion sizes, food pricing, and placement encourage overeating or nutrition-poor choices.  Dr. Wootan will talk about what companies are doing and what more they could do to support parents’ efforts to feed their children well.

  • Parental responsibility meets corporate responsibility. How food choices are influenced by corporate practices.
  • There is no neutral—how default options offered by restaurants and food companies exert a powerful, though rarely noticed influence over food choices.
  • Pockets of progress—promising approaches that are being adopted by companies, localities and policy makers to support healthy eating and reduce obesity.