In one of my recent blogs Is The Mascot to Blame I discussed how many organizations felt that brand mascots were to blame for childhood obesity. Proponents of that school of thought may find some consolation in the Federal Trade Commission’s Report, A Review of Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents,” as reported by Adweek.
The report found that marketing targeted to 2 -to-17 year-olds had declined 19.5 percent from 2006 to 2009. Most of the decrease came from reduced television advertising. However, new media marketing such as online, mobile, and viral marketing increased by fifty percent. The report also found that Companies increased integrated marketing and cross-promotion campaigns that combine traditional media with other platforms such as packaging and toy premiums. In addition, the report also analyzed the nutritional profile of foods marketed to youth, and found that self-regulation by the food industry through the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) has resulted in “modest nutritional improvements”. Currently, the CFBAI website lists 17 voluntary members who have committed to creating or improving food offerings based on science-based nutrition guidelines. While this may be a step in the right direction, I believe as a nation when we read these results we need to ask is better really better?
Yes, hundreds of foods had been modified or changed to meet these nutritional standards, but when you look at those standards and what foods meet them, the picture becomes clearer. The list includes foods such as Chef Boyardee, Lunchables, McDonald’s, Burger King, and Lucky Charms to name a few. These are not the fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that appear on the well-known food pyramid and not the standard of healthy foods we should provide our children in their daily diet. In addition, only three of the seventeen companies involved in the initiative have elected not to engage in advertising primarily directed at children under the age of twelve. When I look at this information I am left with the question is this the best we can do? Food is one of the most important building blocks for good health and when it comes to what we feed our children, I believe we should more carefully consider what we accept as healthy.