Group seeks to curb promoting junk food to kids

November 12, 2003 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News

Group seeks to curb promoting junk food to kids

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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