The recent Institute of Medicine recommendation that companies advertise only healthy food choices to children takes a heavy-handed approach to stemming the nation's obesity crisis, maintains Richard Staelin, a professor in Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, Durham, N.C. His research has demonstrated that fast-food companies could reduce their consumers' caloric intake while maintaining profits simply by increasing the assortment of drink sizes they sell.
Instead of legislating advertising of food to children, Staelin recommends that Congress institute a set of guidelines for the fast-food industry similar to the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards established for automobiles.
"If Congress gave fast-food companies the directive to reduce their customers' overall caloric intake by 10%, our research indicates companies could do that without decreasing profits," Staelin declares. "Over time, this would amount to a significant calorie savings and would be a step in combating our obesity crisis."
Staelin and his colleagues varied the sizes of drinks they offered to participants...