New Report on Food Marketing to Kids

Posted on March 3, 2006

[posted from PA Nutrition Education Network newsletter]

Recently, the Institutes of Medicine released a report on food and beverage marketing targeted to children ages 12 and under. A committee reviewed hundreds of studies on television food marketing to children ages 2 to 12 and how marketing may affect their diet and health; studies on other forms of marketing and marketing to other age groups were too limited to report findings.

For young children, the committee found that:

* Television advertising influences the food and beverage preferences and purchase requests of children ages 2 through 11 years old.
* Television advertising affects their consumption habits, at least over the short term.
* Most advertising geared toward children promotes high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, beverages, and meals.

The committee also reported that ?Available studies are too limited to determine whether television advertising is a direct cause of obesity among children. However, the statistical association between ad viewing and obesity is strong. Even a small influence would amount to a substantial impact when spread across the entire population.?

From these findings, the committee made the following recommendations:

1. Industry marketing should focus on kid-friendly products high in nutrient density and lower in calories, fat, salt, and added sugars.
a. For example, licensed characters, such as popular cartoon characters, should be used only to promote products that support healthful diets.
2. Federal government should enhance nutritional standards, incentives, and public policies to promote the marketing of healthier foods and beverages.
a. For example, industries should work with health officials and consumer groups to develop an industry-wide rating system and labeling that consistently and effectively convey the nutritional quality of foods.
b. A national campaign should be initiated by the government in partnership with the private sector to educate families and children about making healthy food and beverage choices.
3. Schools, parents, and the media should work with government and industry to pursue initiatives that support healthful diets for children and youth
4. Congress should enact legislation if voluntary efforts by industry fail.
5. And finally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with other federal agencies, should designate an agency to monitor the nation’s progress in promoting more healthful diets. The HHS secretary should report to Congress within two years on the progress that has been made and additional actions that are needed.

Most of the recommendations require buy-in from the industry.

The report supports the need for quality, non-biased nutrition education in the homes of Americans. Your thoughts on the implications of this report (and its recommendations) to nutrition education and to low-income families are welcome over the listserv.

To read the full report, click: (see the link on the left side)

The press release is available at:

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