Food companies have made ‘moderate’ progress in marketing to kids, finds review

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Iom

Food companies have made ‘moderate’ progress in marketing to kids, finds review
Food and beverage companies have made ‘moderate’ progress in expanding healthier product offerings to children and reducing advertising of less healthy products, according to a review published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report in 2005, recommending ways in which industry stakeholders could help promote a healthy diet. The industry responded with a self-regulatory scheme, Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), set up in 2006, under which companies pledge to “shift the mix of advertising messaging directed at children to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthier lifestyles”.

The authors of this latest research review looked at the results of 117 published articles and reports in order to assess how much progress industry has made in the five year period to January 2011.

They concluded that food and beverage companies have made moderate progress, but other industry sub-sectors, such as trade organizations, restaurants and entertainment companies, have only made limited progress.

“Industry decision makers and policymakers have many opportunities to accelerate progress toward the IOM food marketing committee's recommendations and to create healthy eating environments by using a new infrastructure that has evolved since the 2006 IOM food marketing report release,” ​the authors wrote. “The infrastructure includes industry self-regulatory mechanisms; public–private partnerships; independent monitoring and evaluations undertaken by academic and advocacy groups; and federal government initiatives.”

The authors cited the CFBAI as one example of the self-regulatory mechanisms put in place by industry. Seventeen major food and beverage companies have joined the CFBAI since its launch.

Specific examples of limited industry association progress included the positive actions made by members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, evaluating these in the context of spending $1.6m lobbying against soda taxes, and developing a front-of-pack nutrition labeling system without FDA input, which the authors said “preempted a forthcoming IOM report based on consumers' understanding of FOP systems.”

Source​: Journal of Preventive Medicine

Vol. 40, Issue 2, pp. 207-219

“Industry Progress to Market a Healthful Diet to American Children and Adolescents”

Authors: Vivica I. Kraak, Mary Story, Ellen A. Wartella, Jaya Ginter

Related topics: The obesity problem, Markets

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