Industry updates nutrition criteria for foods marketed to children

Industry Updates Nutrition Criteria for Foods Marketed to Children

Statement of CSPI vice president for nutrition Margo G. Wootan

Today, the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, or CFBAI, took steps toward strengthening its self-regulatory program to address food marketing to children.

CFBAI’s updates to its uniform nutrition criteria include stepwise progress toward lower sodium and added sugars. These updates are one of a number of improvements that the program has made over the last decade, including to its nutrition criteria and to the scope of advertising that companies address.

However, this journey to healthier food marketing to kids is far from over.

CFBAI failed to heed experts’ advice to ensure that all foods marketed to children not only be low in unhealthy components like salt and sugars, but also provide a meaningful amount of healthy constituents like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. And junk-food marketing on kids’ media has only dropped modestly during the CFBAI’s first decade. For example, on Nickelodeon, the most-watched children’s television network, 65 percent of food ads are for unhealthy foods, down from 88 percent in 2005 (the CFBAI program began in 2007). The vast majority of foods marketed to children continue to be of poor nutritional quality, like sweetened cereals, fast food, sugary fruit gummies, and other salty, sugary, highly-processed foods.

Companies should continue to work toward healthier food marketing, continuing to strengthen their nutrition standards and expanding the program to cover all their marketing to children, including all promotions in elementary and secondary schools, characters on packaging, and in-store displays.