FTC Finds Less Junk Food Ads Targeted to Youth

The Federal Trade Commission reports that spending on food ads targeted to youth has fallen from $2.1 billion in 2006 to $1.79 billion in 2009. FTC released these and other findings in a follow-up report on how food advertising to children has changed since the industry launched self-regulatory efforts.

While overall spending decreased, spending for online, mobile, and viral marketing has increased 50%. And not all companies have participated. Still, some companies with large marketing budgets have not reduced levels of marketing to kids at all.

Beverages remained an problem. FTC found that drinks marketed to children averaged more than 20 grams of added sugar per serving. An average candy bar has only slightly more sugar.

The Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative  won praise from FTC for making “major strides” in self-regulation.

According to Jon Leivbowitz, chairman of the FTC, “The encouraging news is that we’re seeing promising signs that food companies are reformulating their products and marketing more nutritious foods to kids, especially among companies participating in industry self-regulatory efforts. But there is still room for improvement. We will look for continued progress by the food industry and greater participation by the entertainment industry.”

Click here to read coverage in the Wall Street Journal and here to read the FTC report.

Gummy Bears image © pato garza / Wikimedia Commons