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Fast Food Ad Ban Mooted by US Doctors

Bottom Line: The advertising of fast, unhealthy foods could be at risk of a US national ban following lobbying by The American Academy of Pediatrics.


The American Academy of Pediatrics, a group of 65,000 physicians, has issued a statement calling for Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to enact laws preventing the advertising of allegedly unhealthy foods. In particular, the medics are concerned about the advertising of such products to children, claiming that "kids see 5,000 to 10,000 food ads per year, most pushing unhealthy foods". Alleges Dr Victor Strasburger, the statement's lead author ...

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... "We've created a perfect storm for childhood obesity - media, advertising, and inactivity. American society couldn't do a worse job at the moment of keeping children fit and healthy - too much TV, too many food ads, not enough exercise, and not enough sleep." 

In April, the FTC and other agencies released a set of voluntary principles regarding the marketing of foods to children. These cover ads targeting children 17 and below, and  are limited to products that have the right ingredient profile.

Comments on the voluntary guidelines are due later this month (July 14) but the food industry has already criticized the guidelines as "draconian". Howls a Campbells Soup spokesman: “The nutritional criteria . . . are highly unrealistic."

While the most prominent of the usual suspects,  Dan Jaffe, evp, Association of National Advertisers complains: "They’re asking the whole industry to change behavior, and they’re using old data to justify it.”

Jaffe cites the self-regulatory program introduced in 2006, when advertisers (collectively representing 70%-80% of all ads targeting children)  amended their products and messaging.

Though the FTC's latest guidelines are voluntary, advertisers are worried the could lead to future clampdowns. “There is the force of regulation behind it,” Jaffe says.

Meantime, in the opposite corner is nutritionist and New York University Professor Marion Nestle, whose tome Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health describes tactics used by food company marketers to lure children as young as two years to consume their products.

Nestle quotes one marketer saying: "Kids are a growing demographic and [advertisers] are trying to get in on the ground floor." Another marketing strategist defended childhood advertising as "nothing less than primary education in commercial life."

But, warns Professor Nestle: "Children comprise a multi-billion dollar market, and what better way to instill brand loyalty and increase lifetime profits than by marketing to the youngest, most vulnerable, members of society?"

[Estimated timeframe: Q3 2011 - 2014]

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Source: RTNews.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5614



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