Too Many Sugar Ads For Kids

Rocher ChocolateThe largest study ever done on TV ads aimed at kids finds children of all ages are being pummeled with commercials for candy, snacks and sugary cereals.

Children 8 to 12 years old watch the most — an average of 21 food ads a day, or more than 7,600 a year, according to the study, released by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation and conducted with researchers at Indiana University.

The news comes at a time when there is growing concern over food marketing’s impact on the childhood obesity crisis. Currently, about a third of the nation’s children and teens in the USA — about 25 million kids — are either overweight or obese.

“In this era when we are so concerned about childhood obesity, it’s surprising that food advertisements aimed at children are so overwhelmingly on the side of foods that kids should be eating less of, not more of,”

says Vicky Rideout, a vice president at the Kaiser foundation. Great Britain recently banned TV ads for less healthy foods targeted to children, she says.

Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-D.C.-consumer group, says the Kaiser study shows that

“food marketing aimed at kids is as bad as ever. There’s a lot of it, and it’s for unhealthy foods.”

But Daniel Jaffe of the Association of National Advertisers, a trade group, says that several studies show that the advertising of food to children on television has gone down substantially since the late 1970s.

“Food advertising was going down at the same time that childhood obesity was jumping dramatically, so placing the primary blame on advertising is overly simplistic,”

he says.

Still, companies respond to consumer demands, and Jaffe says there “is going to be a tremendous change in the food advertising to children within the next year because 11 companies who do two-thirds of all advertising to kids have agreed that half of that advertising will be either for healthier offerings or will encourage physical activity.”

Rideout says if parents are concerned about food ads, they should turn off the TV, have their children watch commercial-free programming or use digital video recorders and fast-forward through the ads.

RSS Trackback URL 28. March 2007 (17:01)
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1 Comment»

  1. Kai

    30. March 2007 | 07:28 h

    I remember when my youngest daughter was small – we were in the cereal isle and she could sing the jingles for just about every one of those boxes of sugar…. she was barely in Kindergarten!

    I was amazed at how those (seemingly harmless) ads had stuck with her!

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