Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents: An Update

by Alexandra Williams, MA on Feb 17, 2013

Food for Thought

The Federal Trade Commis¬≠sion has released its Review of Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents, and the conclusions indicate that there is still much to be done if industry self-regulation of food marketing to children is to become an effective way to protect the health of minors. The 2012 report is a follow-up to the FTC’s 2008 report, which Congress requested in response to dramatic increases in childhood obesity rates.

Four of the Marketing Methods

1. Cross-promotion continues as a hallmark of marketing to youth, especially younger children. Food products are tied to movies, TV shows, cartoon characters, toys, websites, video games and theme parks, as well as other entertainment venues. The review listed over 120 films, shows and books that are featured in cross-promotion campaigns. It noted Nickelodeon, Disney and Sesame Street® for promoting fresh fruits and vegetables.

2. Television advertisements are less prevalent now than they were 5 years ago, yet they remain a staple and still account for a huge amount of ad expenditure. Almost all TV ads portray snack foods as fun and interesting, with both real and animated celebrities and personalities acting as spokescharacters.

3. Internet and digital ads are now an anchor for marketing to young people. Games designed to promote a particular product—advergames—are a key focus, with only a few ads urging children to ask for parental permission. Teens are the targets of mobile device ads, with ring tones, prizes or points awarded for participating in the promotion.

4. Viral marketing, social media and word-of-mouth advertising are also directed toward the teen market, with companies urging users to engage their friends.

Based on the market research information provided, the FTC determined that family purchasing decisions are shifting away from mothers and toward a more collaborative family decision-making process, indicating that children play an important role in food decisions. Seventy-five percent of purchasers said they bought a product for the first time because their children asked for it.

As part of the report, the Commission also assessed the food industry’s self-regulatory efforts to promote more nutritious foods. This attempt at self-regulation is known as the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. According to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, this effort has led to only “modest improvements in the way food and media companies market and advertise food to children, and the overwhelming majority of foods advertised to kids is still of poor nutritional quality.” For example, under the initiative’s standards, Fruit Roll-Ups®, SpagettiOs® and Cocoa Puffs® are considered nutritious.

With billions spent per year to market food to youth, it’s important for those concerned about children’s health to recognize how food information is being relayed to children and what is classified as nutritious.

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 10, Issue 3

© 2013 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Alexandra Williams, MA

Alexandra Williams, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Alexandra Williams, MA, is a contributing editor for IDEA Fitness Journal and co-owner of the Fun & Fit blog, column and radio show with her twin sister. Certified since 1986, Alexandra currently tea...

1 Comment

Trending Articles

Mindful Walking

Walking can be more than just moving physically from one location to another. It can be a metaphor for your larger life journey. Things you&...

Smooth Move: Creative Additions to Consider for Smoothies

When looking for a quick breakfast or post-workout nourishment, almost nothing beats a smoothie. Whirl in the right ingredients and the blen...

Nuts and Peanuts Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Prolong Lifespan

While there have been numerous studies in recent years touting the health benefits of nuts and peanuts, new research published online March ...

Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s with MIND Diet

Conservative adherence to a new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a paper published o...

Yes, You CAN Develop Better Eating Habits

Analogous to laying out your exercise gear so it’s the first visual reminder you have of your commitment to exercise each day, imagine...

7 Ways to Help a Client Boost Adherence

Once a client has decided to make nutritional changes to support weight loss, you can play a key role in developing an action plan that is m...

20 IDEA World-Renowned Presenters Share Advice on Success and Happiness

We asked some of this year’s most influential and motivating IDEA World Fitness Convention™ presenters to share the single piece of advice they would give another fitness/health pro to hel...

Low Intensity vs. High Intensity: Which Is Best for Obese Adults?

The debate continues regarding the most effective exercise measures for reducing abdominal obesity and improving glucose measures.

Recipe for Health: Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers

If you don’t believe that authentic Mexican cookery is “whole” and healthy, you need to take a deep dive into Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon 2014), the first truly comprehensive bible...

Rice-Cooking Technique Cuts Calorie Absorption in Half

In a molecular gastronomy-meets-lab-science moment, researchers at the College of Chemical Sciences in Colombo, Sri Lanka, have discovered a...