No increase in food ads to kids, says FTC report

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Marketing, Ftc

Food advertising on children's television has not increased in
almost three decades, according to new data released Friday by the
Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The report, issued by FTC's Bureau of Economics, analyzed kids' exposure to television ads in 2004 and compared it to similar research conducted in 1977. The findings, which were based on a staff analysis of Nielsen Media Research/Nielsen Monitor-Plus data, showed that children are not exposed to more food ads on television than they were in the past. However their ad exposure is more concentrated on children's programming. Out of the total 25,600 TV ads seen by two to eleven year-olds in 2004, 22 percent were for food. The report said children get approximately half of their food advertising and about one-third of their total television advertising exposure from programs for which children are at least 50 percent of the audience. However, according to consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the report's findings are "hardly much cause for celebration". "Television is just one slice of an ever-expanding pie of food marketing aimed at kids,"​ said the group. Next year, new FTC data is expected to examine all the other types of food marketing aimed at children and adolescents. The separate study, which is being currently conducted, will include information on the types of food marketed and the types of marketing techniques used. The amount spent on marketing and the nature of marketing activities will also be examined, as well as any marketing policies, initiatives, or research in effect or undertaken by food and beverage companies. Just a few weeks ago, FTC closed a public comment period for an information request designed to help it prepare its Food Industry Marketing to Children Report. This will include an analysis of commercial advertising time of food and beverage products targeting children on television, radio, and in print media. The commission is proposing to issue compulsory process orders to major manufacturers, distributors and foodservice firms. They will have to disclose information on their marketing techniques and expenditures used to promote products to children. Companies likely to receive these requests are those selling the types of products that appear to be most frequently advertised to children. These include breakfast cereals, snack foods, candy and gum, sodas and other beverages, frozen and chilled desserts, prepared meals and dairy products. In addition, FTC proposes to collect information from major marketers of fruits and vegetables to ensure that data are gathered regarding efforts to promote consumption of these foods among children and adolescents. FTC and the Department of Health and Human Services will next month host a forum on Marketplace Responses to Childhood Obesity. Due to be held on July 18, the forum will be a follow-up to a 2005 workshop, where the results from last week's report were first presented.

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