More on Big Food’s Marketing of Junk to Kids (Links! Studies! Videos!)

by Bettina Elias Siegel on October 7, 2011

In the past few days there’s been a flurry of posting in the blogosphere about a topic much discussed here on TLT in the past — Big Food’s marketing of junk food to kids.

For those new to the issue, Big Food spends almost $2 billion annually on advertising processed food products to children, a viewing audience which, studies have shown, lacks the cognitive ability to evaluate these advertisements critically (see “Nothing Goes Together Like Athletics and . . . Doritos?”).  Children are exposed to an average of twelve ads for food each day on television, and many more via the Internet and mobile phone apps.

Past industry efforts at “self-regulation” have been toothless, categorizing junk foods like Cupcake Pebbles, Lunchables Chicken Dunks and Chocolate Lucky Charms as “better for you” foods that can be freely marketed to kids.  (For more, see “Fox Guards Henhouse: Industry’s ‘Self-Regulation’ of Children’s Food Advertising” and the follow-up links you’ll see at the end of that post.)

This spring, a federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) comprised of the FTC, CDC, FDA and USDA issued its own voluntary guidelines for food advertising to kids which would represent a definite improvement over the prior industry-created self-regulatory scheme.  But the food industry has fought tooth and nail against the implementation of these new guidelines, both by countering them with its own revised scheme (which still would allow the foods pictured below to be advertised, among many others), and also by gaining the support of House Republicans to thwart the IWG’s efforts.

So, now to the more recent news and links:

  • Prevention Institute has just released a nice little video called “We’re Not Buying It,” calling out major food manufacturers for their predatory marketing practices:

  • The excellent Fooducate blog has a recap of a study about the influence of television food advertising on kids and the degree to which parents can – and can’t – counteract those messages.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, here is a link to the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s petition urging President Obama and others to support the Interagency Working Group’s voluntary guidelines.  Please consider taking a moment to fill out this petition and let government officials know how you feel about the issue.

 

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