Doubts About Self-Regulation of Food Advertising to Children

Critics says voluntary enforcement of rules for junk food advertising to children by the food industry isn’t working. They found several issues. Despite a recent FTC report that says the industry is spending less overall on food advertising to kids, critics point out that dollars spent advertising to kids in places like online games or tablet and cell phone apps is growing. They point out that this sort of messaging may be more insidious since it occurs in interactive setting.

In addition, not every company involved in food advertising to children is abiding by the self-enforced rules. For example, even though Disney and Qubo limit the amount of advertising that can be done on their website for unhealthy foods, Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network do not. Further, the guidelines that have been established come from the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a group created by food marketers themselves, who had previously rejected the more stringent guidelines on advertising to children suggested by a federal inter-agency working group.

“Self-regulation has led to only modest improvements in the way food and media companies market and advertise food to children,” Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of foods advertised to kids is still of poor nutritional quality.”

Click here to read more in the Seattle Post Intelligencer and here to read the FTC report.

Child & Computer image © Nevit Dilman / Wikimedia