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Children Now statement in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s report on food and beverage marketing to children

Jul 29, 2008

The following is a statement by Patti Miller, vice president of Children Now’s Children & the Media program, regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s report on food and beverage marketing to children, which was released today. The study found that companies spent $1.6 billion in 2006 to promote food and beverages to children, with television continuing to dominate the advertising landscape.

“The FTC report reinforces what we’ve known for several years: companies are heavily marketing unhealthy foods and beverages to our nation’s children, despite a childhood obesity epidemic that is spiraling out of control. While new data is helpful, what we really need is effective industry action.

“While there have been self-regulatory efforts, they are insufficient to address the issue. Media companies are largely missing from the equation. The media companies have not stepped forward to play a role in protecting children from the advertising of unhealthy food products. The FTC report, similar to the 2005 Institute of Medicine report, recommends that the industry do so. How many years do we have to wait for media companies to take action? They must adopt a uniform nutrition standard and monitor the advertising environments to ensure unhealthy food advertising is significantly reduced.

“We know there is a link between television advertising and the food preferences, purchase requests and consumption habits of our nation’s children. Yet media companies continue to privilege their profits over the health and nutrition concerns of the nation’s children. They must act now. The stakes are too high to sell children’s needs short.”

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