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Karen Showalter's picture

Did you know? Each year, U.S. food and beverage companies spend nearly $2 billion (Yes, that’s billion with a “b”!) marketing to children — and most ads promote unhealthy foods and drinks.*

Whether they're putting our kids' favorite characters on junk food packaging, sending special deals and invitations via mobile phones, or sponsoring school events and materials, companies are purposefully bypassing parents to cultivate our kids into what they hope will be lifelong consumers of unhealthy foods. Pretty scary, right?

*It’s time for this to change! Companies should not be attempting to bypass parents by marketing unhealthy soda, candy, chips, and other junk food directly to our kids. Please join me in asking them to stop:

Together our voices can make a difference! First, women make three-quarters of purchasing decisions, so when we sign on to open letters, we have a tremendous impact. Second, we’re not alone in this fight: Our voices calling for parents to be able to make healthy choices for our kids are backed by a national panel of experts which recently released Recommendations for Responsible Food Marketing to Children. These recommendations, if adopted by food and entertainment companies, would be a great step forward in further reducing unhealthy food marketing to children.

Fortunately, a path for change is open to us: There is a Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) which is a self-regulation program that includes most of the nation's largest food and beverage companies. CFBAI has made some progress in reducing unhealthy marketing, but recent expert recommendations show that they need to be strengthened as follows:

  • Right now, most self-regulation food marketing policies within corporations only protect children ages 2 to 11. But evidence shows that older children are also substantially influenced by food marketing, so the expert recommendations suggest that companies should stop marketing unhealthy foods to kids from birth to age 14. 
  • Further, the current policies don’t cover what children see on food packages, like those in the supermarket cereal aisle. The expert recommendations say the companies should cover all marketing, not just TV commercials.
  • Brands marketed to children should contain only products that meet nutrition criteria.
  • Media and venues should be considered child-directed if children constitute 25% or more of the audience, or when ads are designed to get kids’ attention.

Will you join us in asking CFBAI to encourage its member companies to adopt these expert recommendations and do more to protect kids from junk food marketing? Add your voice here:

After you sign on, please take a moment to post the above action link on Facebook, Tweet it out, and share via email. The more of us who take action, the bigger the impact we’ll have together. After all, our consumer power is nothing to sneeze at!

Thank you. Together, we're a powerful voice for all families to be able to make healthy food choices — and for healthy kids and families!

* See Marketing Food to Children and Adolescents: A Review of Industry Expenditures, Activities, and Self-Regulation: A Federal Trade Commission Report To Congress, July 2008. 

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