WASHINGTON, DC: The US government could take a more proactive approach to supervising how food is marketed to children in the country after new legislation on the matter was passed earlier this week.

A recent article in the International Journal of Advertising argued that perceptions of how advertising impacts children need "urgent updating to take into account recent and significant findings from psychology and neuroscience."

Under the terms of a bill that received final approval on March 12 in the US, a new body, the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children, will be set up to investigate this issue.

Members will be drawn from the Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the secretary of agriculture.

It will be charged with developing "recommendations for standards for the marketing of food" to children under the age of 17, and establishing which products are suitable to be advertised to this age-group.

Under the terms of the legislation, the Working Group will also "determine the scope of the media to which such standards should apply," and it must reveal its findings in July 2010 at the latest.

Dan Jaffe, evp of the Association of National Advertisers, argued that "when you start to look at rules that would affect kids almost old enough to vote, it could raise major issues."

He added that adopting a "good food–bad food" strategy, and then restricting advertising for goods in the latter category, would be "unconstitutional."

Data sourced from AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff