Federal Trade Commission Issues Report on Food Marketing to Kids

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan


The new FTC study shows that there is a lot of marketing aimed at children, and let’s be perfectly clear it was not spent urging kids to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The food industry spent a billion and a half dollars urging children to eat fast food, sugary cereals, soft drinks, and other unhealthy foods.

As a mom and nutrition professional, what strikes me is the disconnect between the food industry’s talking points and what we actually see on television during children’s programming. While it’s encouraging that food companies have developed pledges to cut back on junk-food marketing, the pledges are carefully tailored with loopholes to let in foods like Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats and General Mill’s Cookie Crisp cereals.

All food and entertainment companies need to adopt a strong set of national nutrition standards and apply them to all their marketing. Also, Nickelodeon, Disney, Cartoon Network and other entertainment companies and still-absent food companies, Chuck E. Cheeses, Subway, Dannon, Topps Candy, and Yum Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut) need to join the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative.

Companies are starting to address marketing to children but if they don’t step up their efforts, Congress and the next administration will need to do it for them. 

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