Advocates Call for Limits on Marketing to Kids

WASHINGTON, D.C. A public advocacy group has asked the U.S. Senate to give the Federal Trade Commission the authority to set nutritional standards for the types of foods that can be marketed to children, and to limit the advertising of high-calorie foods to kids on television, in magazines and in schools.

At a hearing before a Senate Commerce subcommittee on the issue of childhood obesity on Tuesday, the Center for Science in the Public Interest argued that parents need help when it comes to feeding their children healthy foods. “The reality is that marketing aimed at children makes it much harder for parents to feed their children well,” said Margo Wootan, CSPI’s director of nutrition policy.

The Association of National Advertisers countered that the industry already has a strong self-regulatory system in place to combat childhood obesity through the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the National Advertising Review Council.

“Marketers realize that material that might be truthful and non-deceptive for adults might still mislead young people,” said Robert Liodice, ANA’s president and CEO. “CARU has devised a detailed code to assure that children are not taken advantage of in the advertising marketplace.”

The hearing follows a report released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that children who spend more time on computers or watching television are more likely to be significantly overweight.