Voluntary effort to shift children’s advertising deemed unsuccessful
Ad news bears: Three years ago, a group of large food and beverage companies launched a voluntary initiative to change their advertising during TV programs favored by children. They were supposed to advertise more healthy foods and drinks, and fewer nutritionally deficient ones. Not surprisingly, the initiative is a failure, according to an independent study commissioned by the California-based group Children Now. The study reports that 72.5% of foods advertised on television during children's programs fall into the poorest nutritional category. Before the initiative began, 84% was. If you are looking for ads about fruits and vegetables, be prepared to wait, and wait, and wait: the authors found that you'd need to watch children's programs for 10 hours before seeing one. In that same time, Junior sees 55 ads for the poorest category of foods and 20 for the medium category. The study also finds fault with the use of "licensed" characters (like Spongebob Squarepants) as promoters of nutritionally barren foods. The report suggests that it is time for Congress to start regulating advertising to children. A Federal Trade Commission hearing (PDF) will be held on December 15 to examine food and beverage advertising to children. (Science Daily; commentary from Marion Nestle)
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