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WV Sen. Rockefeller wants TV network to ban food, drink ads targeting kids

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Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., is asking a popular television network to ban the advertisement of unhealthy food and drinks that target kids.

Rockefeller wants Nickelodeon and its parent company, Viacom, to ban ads that promote unhealthy food and sugared beverages to Nick's target audience. Rockefeller said he believes the cable channel has a moral obligation to protect the health of its audience, and he's calling on both Nickelodeon and Viacom to fight childhood obesity.

"This is about making sure our kids are able to live strong, healthy lives, and there are concrete steps each of us can take to support these efforts," Rockefeller said. "Nickelodeon can take one major step forward in the fight against childhood obesity by banning junk food and sugar-filled beverage ads that target kids."

According to a 2010 Yale University study, cited by Rockefeller's office, Nickelodeon airs a quarter of the food and beverage ads viewed by children 12 years old and younger. Last year, the Center for Science in the Public found that 69 percent of foods advertised on Nickelodeon, such as fast food and snacks, were of poor nutritional quality.

In addition to pushing Nickelodeon and Viacom to ban certain advertisements, Rockefeller wants to eliminate incentives for companies that sell or market these products. Instead, he wants to promote access to programs that encourage healthful and active lifestyles.

"We must do better in West Virginia to increase physical activity in our communities and promote the great health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables," he said. "Combined with more access to screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, these efforts can reduce the likelihood of chronic disease and improve our state's overall health."