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Should The FTC Regulate Food Advertising Aimed At Children?

The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a set of proposed standards for marketing foods to children.

a vintage cheerios ad

Photo: jbcurio (flickr)

University of Arizona researchers found that the majority of food ads produced by self-regulating companies are for junk foods.

kraft ad showing macaroni and cheese dinner

Photo: jbcurio (flickr)

The Federal Trade Commission recently held a forum to discuss the regulation of food-marketing to children. While the “industry-sponsored” Children’s Food and Beverage Initiative insists that more regulation is not needed, researchers at the University of Arizona suggest otherwise.

In their investigation (PDF), the researchers found that the majority of food ads produced by self-regulating companies are for junk foods, AND at least 25 percent of junk foods ads come from companies that do not self-regulate. Not only that, healthy food advertisements are almost non-existent.

New Regulations?

The researchers from Arizona aren’t the only ones concerned about the importance of food-ad regulation. Together, the FTC, FDA, USDA, and the CDC formed a working group and issued a set of proposed standards for marketing foods to kids (PDF).

Whether or not these standards and recommendations will be implemented, however, is yet to be determined and some commentators even question whether the steps being taken by the FTC are meaningful, or go far enough.

Your Thoughts

What do you think? Should the FTC take a more active role in regulating food marketing aimed at children? Leave a comment and let us know where you stand.

Read More:

  • What Will Stop Food Ads Aimed At Kids? (Atlantic)
  • FTC Hearing on Kids’ marketing: a preview (Food Politics)
Emily Shelton

Emily Shelton is a web producer and blogger for Earth Eats. A native of Evansville, Indiana, Emily moved to Bloomington in the fall of 2007 to attend Indiana University, pursuing a major in Telecommunications and a minor in Business. Emily began interning at WFIU in the fall of 2008 and is now an Assistant Web Producer. As an official Earth Eats "tweeter", Emily loves spreading the word about the importance of environmental issues and "going green". In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, writing, and looking at pictures of delicious meals that she'll only ever dream about.

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  • bengtivarsson

    Food advertising is felt to be a good investment by companies marketing fast food and other high-calorie foods, contributing to the obesity epidemic, to the tune of 100s of millions of dollars per year. This investment in building a base of food-addicted individuals, from pre-teen up, far outnumbering $$ for advertising of better nutritients (vegatables, fruits, etc.) and for the promotion of healthy lifestyles. Of course limiting advertising of fast food will help this multifactorial problem … the FTC SHOULD regulate advertising to minors and arguably limit advertising on airways to adults as well for the purpose of promoting less obesity-related diseases … which drive up health care costs. The current system benefit the corporations marketing fast food, then the public health tab is picked up by the rest of society … not to speak of the bodily harm to the public from obesity.

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