Can Responsible Marketing help fight childhood obesity?

Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation - White House

From the The Wall Street Journal:

The White House is calling on food makers to curb marketing of unhealthy foods to children, part of a broad assault against childhood obesity.

The recommendation is part of a 120-page report released Tuesday that outlines steps to fight the national epidemic. One in every three children ages 2-19 is overweight or obese, the report says. First Lady Michelle Obama has taken up childhood obesity as her signature cause.

The recommendations are for the food and beverage industry, media and entertainment companies and food retailers. Recommendations from the report urge these parties to:

  • Extend their self-regulatory program to cover all forms of marketing to children
  • Avoid in-store marketing that promotes unhealthy products to children
  • Limit the licensing of popular characters to food and beverage products that are healthy and consistent with science-based nutrition standards
  • Adopt meaningful, uniform nutrition standards for marketing food and beverages to children
  • Develop a uniform standard for what constitutes marketing to children
  • Set uniform guidelines to ensure that a higher proportion of advertisements shown on their networks and platforms are for healthy foods and beverages
  • Introduce an on-air labeling system that helps consumers easily distinguish between advertising for healthy and unhealthy foods
  • Develop and deploy technology to block unhealthy food and beverage advertising

And if the above doesn’t work, the FCC will be called in to revisit and modernize children’s programming rules.

Click here to download the 120-page report[3.3 MB].

This is a step in the right direction, but is it enough? Self-regulation hasn’t worked well on Wall Street. Will this be enough to rein-in Madison Avenue?

I doubt it, but what do you think?

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Inspired by this tweet by Hank Wasiak.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Charles Sipe says:

    I don’t think so either. Eating too much and unhealthy food has become a habit for many young people. According to the “Too Fat to Fight” report, more than 27 percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 24—or 9 million are too overweight to join the military. (Newsweek)

    I think the solution is changing the environment by making it more difficult for young people to get access to junkfood. That might involve removing unhealthy options from school cafeterias or adding a steep tax to unhealthy food (like the tax they have on cigarettes).

  • I think it is excellent that the First Lady is becoming so involved in this cause, and I think it is a very good thing that this has become a fore-front issue.

    However, how much is “marketing to children” really an issue for the young? Excuse me, but if there is a TWO year old obese child, how much is that marketing? Or is that really the responsibility of the parents? Or the pediatricians? Or teachers with their sugar cookies & powder-lemonade snacks?

    And too, is this ‘epedimic’ really so new? Or has the definition of obesity changed over the years… Which yes, it has.

    I think quite a bit could be done to change how young people – teens, older children, young adults – are influenced to eat unhealthy food, and responsible marketing is a great start. But folks can’t blame the media alone. Especially in regards to the young. It needs to go closer to home.

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