US Food Makers Toughen Up on Kids' Ads

15 July 2005

The voice of the American food industry, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, is speaking out over advertising to children amid concerns of rising levels of obesity amongst the nation's youth.

As food makers meet in Washington for a workshop on 'marketing, self-regulation and childhood obesity', the GMA will outline proposals to regulate use of licensed characters in food ads and product placement in TV programs.

It is also expected to unveil plans to limit 'advergaming', whereby online games are linked with food brands targeted at children, such as soft drinks and confectionery.

Such advertising techniques are rarely investigated by the food industry-financed Children's Advertising Review Unit, which the GMA is keen to see better funded enabling it to upgrade its operation with more staff.

CARU's current method of monitoring children's advertising is confidential - something the GMA would like to see changed to a more open, public-friendly approach. It also advocates the pre-screening of ads to ensure they meet the new proposed guidelines.

The GMA's latest policies are, however, notably lacking in proposing nutritional standards for such products - an omission sure to rile public-health advocates and legislators, although some food companies such as PepsiCo already work to self-imposed nutritional guidelines.

Data sourced from: Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff