July 23, 2024

CSPI, Others Target Junk Food Marketing to Children

Center for Science in the Public Interest, along with MomsRising.org, the American Heart Association, and Prevention Institute are asking candy companies to stop marketing unhealthy foods to kids. Hershey, Mars, and Nestle belong to the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), but Tootsie Roll, the American Licorice Company, Haribo of America, Perfetti Van Melle, and The Topps Company do not participate in that program.

Baby eating broccoliCFBAI participants are trying to change the children’s food advertising landscape. Participants pledge to only advertise foods meeting “meaningful nutrition criteria” or to not advertise to children. They also agree to be held accountable by CFBAI for their actions.

CSPI says that Haribo and Tootsie Roll Industries do not have any publicly available corporate children’s marketing policies. Those two corporations regularly advertise to very young TV audiences on cartoon shows such as SpongeBob SquarePants. Margo G. Wootan, CSPI nutrition policy director said, “advertising products that promote diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay to impressionable toddlers watching My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake is completely outside the boundaries of responsible corporate behavior.”

Children under the age of eight do not have the brain maturity to understand how advertising is persuasive. The National Academies’ Institute of Medicine has found that television advertising affects the food choices and diets of small children. The CDC says that childhood obesity rates have doubled in the last 30 years. Obesity increases the risk factors for heart disease, pre diabetes, cancer, and osteoarthritis.

Perfetti Van Melle, which makes Airheads and Mentos, does have a policy that prohibits advertising in elementary schools and the use of characters to encourage consumption. Topps will not advertise in elementary schools.


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