Feds Admonish Food Marketers

WASHINGTON The federal government wants food marketers to adopt nutritional standards for kid-targeted products, or else shift its marketing emphasis to lower-calorie items, according to a report on childhood obesity by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The report, released today, calls for additional self-regulatory measures by the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, including monitoring the way foods are marketed to children beyond traditional advertising.

Other CARU recommendations include studying the possibility of establishing a seal program to identify more nutritious products and to examine in what context product placements are appropriate.

CARU in February said that it would review its guidelines partly in response to concerns raised about the role marketing might play in childhood obesity. At the time, CARU said it would examine online games, product placement and licensed characters.

The report also calls on media and entertainment companies to review and revise their product licensing deals to promote a more healthful diet.

“Responsible, industry-generated action and effective self-regulation are critical to addressing the national problem of childhood obesity,” said FTC chairman Deborah Platt Majoras. “The FTC plans to monitor industry efforts closely, and we expect to see real improvements.”

The report grew out of a workshop the FTC and HHS held last summer that examined what the private sector was doing to combat childhood obesity.