Will Junk Food Marketing to Kids Ever End?

After the plethora of studies I've posted over the years confirming the link between TV viewing and childhood obesity, the Institute of Medicine has finally decided to take a stand in a new report (free PDF link below) calling for sweeping changes in the way junk foods and snacks are advertised and marketed for children under age 12.

The top five food categories marketed to kids over the last decade:

  • Cereals 235
  • Chocolate candies 236
  • Snacks 265
  • Chewing gum 354
  • Non-chocolate candies 1,407

Although researchers focused on TV ads for the report, the marketing of junk food and sweets to kids has become increasingly sophisticated, especially over the last decade with popular characters like Harry Potter, Shrek and SpongeBob Squarepants used to shill sugary foods your child has no business eating, strategic product placements in your local grocery store and even Internet-based games.

The huge downside of the report: Not surprisingly, it doesn't define what constitutes an unhealthy food. Amazing...

Don't believe for a second food manufacturers haven't been preparing for this backlash, considering they formed a lobbying group earlier this year to defend their right to advertise these health-harming products to kids.

As always, the best things you can do to protect your child's health are also the easiest: Take an active role in monitoring your kid's TV viewing -- many people don't -- and get that "glow box" out of their bedrooms today.

Institute of Medicine December 6, 2005 Free PDF Overview

USA Today December 7, 2005

MSNBC December 6, 2005

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