This week a consumer group charged that the marketing of fatty, sugary, and low-nutrient foods was fueling childhood obesity and it called for restricting promotions targeted at the young.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a report that said advertising and marketing of what it termed junk foods had reached an all-time high. The Washington, DC-based advocacy group said the wave of promotion was overwhelming parents' ability to manage their children's diets and had helped lead to a 15 percent obesity rate among children.
The group asked the Department of Health and Human Services to work with Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to limit "junk-food advertising aimed at children."
Current federal rules do not restrict advertising content to children, only how much time ads can take up during children's programming: 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour during the week. All marketing aimed at children (including food) increased from $6.9 billion in 1992 to $15 billion in 2002, according to CSPI.
It is unclear how much of that is for food, but experts said that for every $1 spent by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on child nutrition education, $10 is spent by companies promoting high-fat snacks, soft drinks, processed and fast foods.
The National Restaurant Association criticized the CSPI's stance in a statement saying: "While diet continues to be a main focus, the fact is that calorie intake has remained fairly constant over the last 20 years, and physical activity has increasingly declined."
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