Proposed Guidelines for Marketing Food to Kids: What Do You Think?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
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Last month the US government released new guidelines that crack down on how the food industry can market products to children. The new, voluntary guidelines ask for healthier alternatives to be touted, while halting marketing of sugary cereals and other unhealthy snacks. If instituted, the guidelines would be phased in over five years. They are meant to encourage parents' efforts to get kids to eat better, rather than undermine them by promoting unhealthy foods.

What this could mean is no more Count Chocula, Toucan Sam or Tony the Tiger--if food companies voluntarily follow the guidelines--and no more advertising junk foods to kids unless companies reduce the amount of unhealthy ingredients.

So just what are they recommending? Good question. Let's take a look at the recommendations:

An interagency group (the Federal Trade Commission, together with the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture), which was formed at the urging of Congress two years ago, drafted the recommendations, and the FTC is asking the public to comment. A forum to discuss the proposal will take place on Tuesday, May 24 in Washington, D.C. Details pending. (The link to comment electronically is hard to find within the 27-page document, so I've pulled it out for you here.)

Principle A: Meaningful Contribution to a Healthful Diet
Foods marketed to children should provide a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet, with contributions from at least one of the following food groups:
  • fruit

  • vegetable

  • whole grain

  • fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk products

  • fish

  • extra lean meat or poultry

  • eggs

  • nuts and seeds

  • beans

Principle B: Nutrients with Negative Impact on Health or Weight
Foods marketed to children should be formulated to minimize the content of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight. With the exception of nutrients naturally occurring in food contributions under Principle A (for example, the saturated fat and sodium naturally occurring in low-fat milk would not be counted), foods marketed to children should not contain more than the following amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and sodium.
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g or less per RACC and 15% or less of calories

  • Trans Fat: 0 g per RACC

  • Added Sugars: No more than 13 g of added sugars per RACC

  • Sodium: No more than 210 mg per serving

Interesting facts from the proposal:
  • Cookies and cakes, pizza, and soda/energy/sports drinks are the top sources of calories in the diets of children 2 through 18. Chips and french fries comprise half of all the vegetables kids eat.

  • The food industry spent more than $1.6 billion in 2006 alone to market messages to kids promoting foods that often are high in calories and low in nutrition. Their campaigns use television, the internet, social media, video games, movies, sports and music events, in-store displays and packaging, and even schools.

  • Recent surveys show that childhood obesity has become parents' number one health concern – ahead of smoking and drug abuse — and that parents consider "TV ads promoting junk food" to be a big part of the problem.

The food industry called them "overly restrictive"; food reform activists are split. Journalist Mark Bittman says the guidelines won't help because they're not enough, while nutrition professor and author Marion Nestle says they're great news (though she says she would much prefer a complete ban on marketing food to children).

What do you think? Is this enough? What should be changed? Should these recommendations be regulations that are mandated by the government? In addition to commenting below, be sure to share your opinions with the decisionmakers. (Click here to share your opinions!)

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    The guidelines are a good start, but they don't carry enough clout, and they are being "phased in" over 5 years? All marketing to kids (and adults) needs to be reviewed and revised.
    It isn't about saying no to your kids ~ the overpowering message is so unhealhty, whether it's food, or commercialism. Read "Consuming Kids", it's discussed in depth and will open your eyes! - 3/22/2013   11:16:24 PM
  • 77
    better than nothing but its more PR than actual healthy eating promotion. Food can have over a TBS of sugar plus other sweeteners and all the chemicals and on and on. No, it's not a good piece of legislation in my opinion, but its a small step in the right direction. I think that unhealthy foods ought to be taxed heavily and every penny of that tax be put into healthcare to pay for the damage that it does. IOW treat processed foods like tobacco. - 8/28/2011   5:13:45 PM
    Healthy food is expensive, but it does not have to be. Often companies intentionally increase the price of "health" foods. Shelling out a bit of extra money for whole grains and fruits and vegetables is something I do. It is tough some days to make the budget stretch, but I insist on a few staples that cost a bit more because I know they are good for my daughter.
    I am dubious about whether HALF of the vegetables kids each come from potato chips and such. I would really like to see the statistical breakdown of this study. I have heard these statistics before and think they are grossly exaggerated. Possible tax incentives need to be offered for companies willingly ending their marketing to children AND making very healthy alternatives. I would be much happier with those companies getting a break rather than oil companies (sorry a little political posturing :)
    That being said, it is a parent's responsibility to regulate what their children eat, and giving into your child who wants a particular food is bad parenting, period. Not everyone is ready for children when they have them, but once they come it is your responsibility to take care of them. Healthier food is not always more expensive. Try shopping at a local store that sells Kosher items (there are higher restrictions and REAL ingredients in even frozen meals!). At my grocery store they began carrying a line of whole grain, no preservative, artificial coloring/flavoring, nor high fructose corn syrup cereals (Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms knock offs). They are cheaper than the bulk bagged cereals! Sometimes it takes persistence, or even mentioning to your local store that you would like to see a certain product. Often they respond understanding that if one person wants it, they are probably not the only ones! - 5/19/2011   10:28:34 AM
  • 75
    I think this is a wonderful idea. While the parents are in charge of the actual feeding of their children, children today are gaining more and more control over what the parents buy. The media knows this and further enforces it by marketing specifically toward them. It's not just in advertisements, either. They use Product Placement in the shows, movies and video games they watch and play.

    Even still, it isn't only the parents' fault. Think about where our economy has been and how expensive eating right can be. Take it from a college student who's had to buy her own groceries for the first time this past year. There's a reason Ramen is a staple in universities: It's sold for 69 cents per package, and then they throw in sales like 10 for $5.00. When you're on an extremely tight budget, those kinds of sales are like gold. You can pay $5.00 for a week of food or you can go find healthier choices and maybe get a couple nights' dinners for $20.00.

    I did pretty well eating as a kid, and my parents did well in feeding us most of the time, up until they divorced. We lived right outside of D.C. where the cost of living is pretty darn high. There were all sorts of things that made us unable to live healthy lives. Parents were still fighting, both were single parents trying to support us, and we had our own problems with having just moved to a new school.

    Which brings up the matter of what schools feed children. My secondary school had 2 pizza lines open every single day. On top of that, the regular meal lines still served pizza on Fridays. Then there was one sub-par 'deli' line that served low-quality lunch meats.

    I definitely think this way of marketing will help families and companies shift their priorities. It's not going to be the only solution needed, but combined with multiple other approaches we might be able to get the nation thinking more positively about their health and to not feel like eating right is a privilege only granted to those who can afford it. - 5/18/2011   1:56:27 PM
    I think promoting healthy eating is good. In my case my mom was a healthy cooker : fruits, fresh vegetables, grilled varied meats, and some carbs in the form of whole grain bread (we ate rice and pasta very rarely), etc...I still managed to be an overweight child even though I practiced in-line skating, swimming, walks (the latter I used to do daily with my mom). Was it my mom's fault that I developed a 'bulimic' attitude when I was away from her? I do not think she could have done much to help with my emotional eating which took me a decade to figure out...She also took me to doctors, nutrionist, and while I always lost weight I always gained it with a vengeance... - 5/18/2011   11:47:55 AM
  • 73
    I can't help but wonder -- If it's a parents responsibility to manage what kids eat, and if a good parent will convey to their children that healthy eating is important, and all of us had such great parents (not like those lazy ones who choose to let their kids eat junk), then how are we all on sparkpeople?

    Also, if good parenting is such an effective stopgap, why have food companies continued to find advertising geared towards children to be so successful? - 5/16/2011   6:06:58 PM
  • 72
    I revisted this blog to read the comments. Folks, I understand it is the parent's ultimate responsibility. But consider that folks on SP are motivated and educated to a certain extent. Most can evaluate the logic or lack thereof in advertising. But zillions of parents and kids aren't as literate and motivated. I think companies have gone way overboard in advertising and marketing. If we really want to address the "obesity epidemic" we need to use all the positive tools we can. Many ads are totally misleading and misrepresent facts, as an article featured in a link in today's Daily Spark shows. Yes, the US should legislate advertising.

    Could we stop bashing parents? We don't know how other people struggle. It is rather shallow to judge on appearances. I haven't been on SP very long, but there is more to healthy living and dropping weight than caloric intake vs calories expended. There are hormonal, emotional, mental, genetics, and other influences. It is NOT an easy path to healthy living, and I wish we'd all keep that in mind.

    If we want to reach out to other parents who may not be making healthy choices, we need to do so in a pleasant, positive way, not via criticism. Otherwise, they will simply be defensive and not open to new information or ideas. Plus we need to be sensitive to the complexities of their lives.

    - 5/16/2011   2:08:22 PM
  • 71
    As a parent I make the choices and the government needs to monitor their own affairs or lack theirof. Each time they do regulations like this they are taking us further away from our Bill of Rights and closer to Socialism/Communism - 5/16/2011   12:39:14 PM
  • 70
    I fully agree that it is the parents that need to make the choices and be responsible for how their children eat. However as a parent that says no a lot to all sorts of crap that is advertised on TV it would be helpful if there just wasn't so much. We don't even watch TV that much but when we are watching what my younger kids like we are bombarded with commercials for junk food and junk toys. It's true when I was a child my parents decided what I ate and what I didn't. But they did not have so much crap shoved under our noses on a daily basis like our kids do now a days. I'm just saying changing how products are advertised to children will help the parents that are already being good parents not have to say no quite as much and this would make me smile more therefor making my kids smile more! - 5/16/2011   10:21:20 AM
  • 69
    Just because something is advertised doesn't mean it should be bought. Parents need to be parents and say "no" to their children instead of letting the government assume their responsibilities. - 5/16/2011   8:41:22 AM
  • 68
    I think the guidelines are informative, but I think that parents should choose what their kids eat and look past the marketing rather than the government mandating what private businesses can and can't do. Seriously, does any parent really think something called Count Chocula is going to be good for their kid? If you don't want your kid to eat something, then don't buy it. - 5/15/2011   6:41:13 PM
  • 67
    My kid had only eaten candy a few rare times during her life. She thought milk chocolate was nasty because it was too sweet and as for laffy taffy well that was disgusting. Sweet cereals were off the menu to, give her plain ole Cheerios and she was a happy camper. Here Halloween candy lasted her 6 months and believe me she didn't have a huge bucket of the stuff either.

    Well that was until she went to school. Now her weight is growing fast and I was at a loss. Her lunches are supposed to be healthy and she only gets a controlled portion of cereal for breakfast at school as well. Then I discovered how much freaking candy she was having. She now loves the stuff and gets in a bad mood if I say nope you can't have any today. Over the summer I am going to wien my child off candy and get her used to healthy snacks again. Why do some teachers hand out candy for rewards??

    Yes these advertisements have a lot to answer for but it isn't the only place that kids get bad ideas about food. As parents we have a very important job to do and that is keep our kids healthy for their future. The impetus is on us and so many parents don't seem to care these days and use the quick fix solution that is called the junk food take out service. - 5/15/2011   2:36:50 AM
  • 66
    The government didn't regulate what I ate as a child, my Mom did. The government didn't regulate what my sons ate, we did. The government won't help my sons and daughter-in-law, they are doing fine with regulating what they eat. NONE of my two granddaughters nor my grandson are overweight. Their parents are not overweight. My grandchildren have good role-models because their parents are fit and participate in organized athletics, hunting, fishing, Yoga, Pilates and strength training. Guess what? So do my grandchildren (well, my granddaughter that is just a year old just goes camping, but her 4 year old brother and Dad "hunt" together.

    Keep the governments nose out of my business and my families business. Regulating the advertising of food-stuffs is not one of the "other" powers granted to our government by the Constitution, but they have circled around that by using slick lawyers in sharkskin sits figuring they could use Amendment 4 and regulate Interstate commerce.

    I didn't dare argue with or sass my Mom in a store. My sons argued only a few times, when I started pinching a pressure point on their shoulders, they became perfect gentlemen. One son and his wife are into this "discussion" and "time out" ..... stuff.
    Pardon me, but "reasoning" with a 4 year-old is an exercise in frustration. Younger children are so selfish and self-centered (because that's how they can "survive") that they have to be taught NOT to act that way. My 14 year-old granddaughter should be old enough to reason with, but she's 14 and her hormones are messing with her brain. At 14, sometimes she acts like the only thing in her head is hot air.

    But, for those parents who get whiny and complain that "nobody knows how difficult it is to deal with a child and they can't always say "No"", I say you are totally wrong. No is very easy to say, try it. No. See how easy that was. If you've taught your children what "No" means, they may roll their eyes and pout, so what?

    YOU are the parent, at least that's part of your job description when you acquire a child (naturally, by adoption, or because you have decided that you can accept the responsibility of raising a child that belongs to another family member - or friend). The only time you MAY become your child's best friend is AFTER they become a fully functioning adult, but don't hold your breath. Of course, if you choose, you can allow the government to assume another responsibility - but remember, that also means that you've given up another right.

    I've seen some comments that the obesity problem in children is horrible and that a third of them are obese. Something just doesn't compute for me. More than half of all adults are obese, and I would hope that they are smart enough to know what is good for them, but they refuse to accept it. Seems to me that our children may be smarter than many of their parents, - 5/14/2011   6:35:14 PM
  • 65
    I don't think the legislation is needed. Parents need to be parents. My mother never bought something just because I saw it on TV. We ate as a family and you ate what my mother fixed. If I didn't like the vegetable she fixed I still had to eat it - a large serving spoon full. You didn't get up from the table until you finished your veggies and that meant eating the cold if you tried pushing them around the plate.

    As far as childhood obesity goes first look at the parents. Most all of the obese children I see are in the company of obese parents. So what is advertised or isn't is not going to make a lot of difference. If the parents are not make healthy choices for themselves they sure aren't going to provide healthy food for their children. I've seen parents out shopping with children who are throwing tantrums and they will had them a bag of candy to keep them quite. What kind of message is this sending their kid. I've seen kids in their own homes drinking soda with meals. I've had the parents look at me and say oh he won't drink milk or he won't eat that. Folks you are the parent. You tell that child want they can eat or drink by what you fix. My house as a kid milk was put on the table for the child's beverage. Now yes we got all the junk, fries, burger and soda at McDonald's but that was a once in a while treat not an every day or even once a month happening.

    I do think that the food industry could do better in what they make. I make dishes that are low in salt and fat because I use other spices to give them flavor. I think they use the high salt and fat in products because it is easier to cook and come up with the recipes in the first place. Also we keep buying them. FACE IT FOLKS IF WE DIDN'T BUY THE HIGH FAT, HIGH SALT FOOD THEY WOULDN'T SELL IT. We also believe anything they tell us. If you read the food labels of supposedly healthy products you would find it is a lie. I recently look at one of the "Healthy" soup labels and they still had over 600mg in a cup of soup.

    Instead of worrying about what is advertised and legislating what can be advertised the parents need to take control of there families and simply tells their kids NO. Parents try it some time. Then tell the companies NO by not buying the crappy food they put in the stores in the first place. Trying cooking for yourself it really doesn't take that long and is so much better for you.

    - 5/14/2011   3:40:01 AM
    I believe that it all starts at birth what your child will grow up to like, and what they are fed at home, and not fed. i am a mother of 5 and my children didn't get soda and candy but on holidays, and that was limited, they never got bubble gum, cool-aid was a big thing then and i could not bring myself to dump in a cup of sugar for flavored water. they drank tang, bosco, at meals had to try everything and if they did not like it they could go get something (fruit or veg) they liked. they were never allowed to leave for school unless they ate something , i didn't care what , my son still has a peanut butter a jelly sandwich for breakfast, and a glass of milk.
    when my children would ask for things they had seen on T.V , we would check it out and if it had to much salt or sugar I would tell them so, we made trail mix with nuts , raisens, dried fruit, peanut butter chips, coconut, that was always there for them. popcorn was a big thing ,
    where are all the comericals for fruits and veggies, familys eating meals together.
    it would be wonderful if the companys could just drop the salt and sugar to a decent amount, don't they know their killing people.
    bj - 5/13/2011   11:00:34 PM
  • 63
    And if we don't do something soon, today's children are going to have much greater problems than we do. - 5/13/2011   9:50:28 PM
    After reading all the posts here I am really puzzled. I understand that there should be some regulation of the food industry so that we know what is in the food we are eating. But advertising is what keeps companies in business. While I agree they shouldn't be targeting kids, let's face facts. The companies pay a lot of money to advertise their products. Food companies, electronic companies, telephone companies, etc all pay big bucks to get their message out. Do you have a problem with ads for the latest phone gadget? Did you run right out and buy the latest one due to seeing an ad? Logic, and bank balance, will determine whether or not you can afford to pay for whatever you buy.

    When my children were small they watched TV and would ask for advertised items. I made it a habit to always talk to them before heading out to any store explaining that we were going for certain things and they were not to ask for any "junk" food. They were warned ahead of time that any tantrums would not be tolerated or I would leave the store. This always worked for me. Now they are grown and on their own. I do not control what they buy or how they eat, that is their decision.

    As for the government, now or in the future, telling me how to eat or what to buy is not only appalling but unthinkable. If that is what some of you folks want to happen, be very careful what you wish for. - 5/13/2011   9:09:44 PM
    hey where are the parents with the veto power. i enjoy the sweet cereals occasionally as a treat. growing up sweet cereals were a treat as part of our birthday celebration with our family. - 5/13/2011   5:54:05 PM
  • 60
    No, these guidelines are not enough, but they are a step in the right direction. Let's implement these guidelines and continue pressuring the food industry to 'do better' voluntarily -- and if they don't, pressure the government to tighten up the guidelines... - 5/13/2011   5:20:07 PM
  • 59
    This is certainly better than nothing, but I'm sure that those that want to will look for and find loopholes . . . . I've never been able to figure out what basis is used to say what consititues a serving of anything, it is easy to find printed on the box, but always seems to be completely up to the discretion of the manufacturer. For example, how about all dry cereals use the same serving size, then we could more easily compare labels. - 5/13/2011   4:37:14 PM
    It wouldn't matter what the advertisers said or did if the parents didn't buy that stuff for their children. The parents are the ones who need to be targeted with information. If the parents didn't buy it, the advertisers wouldn't advertise it as it would be a waste of their advertising dollars. - 5/13/2011   4:33:28 PM
  • MMM225
    I say it is worth a try. A child's habits can't get any worse with this proposal. - 5/13/2011   3:19:56 PM
  • 56
    "...spent more than $1.6 billion in 2006 alone to market messages to kids..."

    Most of these products exist for kids to eat. I find it difficult to believe, to say the least, that profit-driven firms will voluntarily stop marketing them to children. - 5/13/2011   1:19:02 PM
  • 55
    I agree with MUMMYUK2, but also think we should have such regulations, mandatory, not voluntary. I used to let my kids choose cereal as long as the cereal was some shade of beige, lol. Ban coupons on character-related foods, too, while you are at it.

    Those in comfy situations may find it easy to resist the kids in the store, but when folks are struggling with low-paying jobs, long hours, stressful situations (family, bad neighborhoods, etc) it is tougher. The kids have stressful lives, so even knowing it isn't a good idea, you may cave in because life s*cks and the colorful cereal is enjoyable.

    I am appalled by the school breakfasts and lunches in the US, but know my daughter cannot possibly afford to pack healthy food for my grandson AND serve healthy meals the rest of the time. It's a terrible choice to have to make. The child gets free lunch and breakfast and she can buy and cook healthy food at home. My grandson adores broccoli etc but also enjoys small bowls of colorful character-related cereal now and then on weekends. My daughter keeps apples and oranges for snacks for the kids, and cooks with a lot of veggies. She tries hard but healthy eating IS expensive.

    A huge problem for us was when a licensed child care provider posted healthy meals and snacks on the parents' info sheets but took the kids to McDs 3-4 days weekly. For us, McDs was a rare treat, not a regular occurrence!

    Even though the child's diet is the responsibility of the prarents, let's make the job easier, not more difficult!! Ban or tone down the advertising. The free market will take advantage of everything they can, with utter disregard for their customers. We wouldn't need "nannystate" regs if folks were responsible in marketing and sales. - 5/13/2011   12:59:45 PM
  • 54
    I'm all for it. People squawked about restricting smokers' rights too, and over time it's just become part of our culture. Feeling sorry for these predatory corporations is like feeling sorry for tobacco companies.

    And please, all, be careful about the judgmental comments about all those "lousy parents" out there. I'd venture to say that none of us are hanging out here in Spark-land because our eating habits have always been above reproach. I take special exception to this comment from down below: "For anyone who complains that the healthy food is too expensive you should have considered your financials before popping out kids." Oh, honey.... *shakes head* - 5/13/2011   12:35:38 PM
  • 1LUCKY1
    If people did not buy the offending products they would disappear from the shelves. Parents need change and be in charge. We have the word "no" for a reason. children do not drive themselves to McDonald's every day (as I know one mom does) and children do not do the grocery shopping in most households. Unfortunately, the behavior I see parents accept from their children tells me the child is in charge all too often. My children were limited to 1 hour of TV a day, thought graham crackers were dessert for years, water was a good beverage, and knew sweets were very special treats. Parents can put ad blockers and pop up blockers on the browsers children use to reduce the number of ads that appear from the internet. Children do not need smart phones until they are mature enough make good choices. Until parents grow up and and start taking responsibility for their children's health and safety, I really don't think there is much the government can do. Until adults decide to be healthy and take responsibility, I think it will be hard to beat the child obesity problem. - 5/13/2011   12:33:32 PM
  • 52
    It amazes me that people on Sparkpeople of all places are against this. Aren't many of us here in the first place because we didn't learn from our parents or schools what we really needed to know about nutrition and/or exercise? - 5/13/2011   12:13:13 PM
  • 51
    It would be great for parents to make the decisions. Unfortunately a lot of parents no very little about nutrition and cave in to whatever their children want. When they see things advertised on TV they naturally want it. - 5/13/2011   12:00:12 PM
    It all starts at home with the parents. Parents should not take the easy way out and give in to the whining of a child. Parents should take this opportunity to teach the child how to make better choices. Children know what buttons to push,it is up to the parent to be the adult and be firm and not give in. - 5/13/2011   11:49:26 AM
    As someone who works in the marketing profession and has studied a lot of the marketing tactics used, especially on children, I would agree that some of the methods are far too aggressive and should be limited. However, ultimately, it is the responsibility of parents to teach their children to make good choices when it comes to food and nutrition. It also comes down to the fact that small children are not the ones who are making purchasing decisions. If parents don't buy junk food for their kids, the kids won't eat it. - 5/13/2011   11:04:25 AM
  • 48
    Companies do work on attracting kids to buy their stuff and it's a pain when shopping with kids, but the parent also has to take responsibility and educate their kids about why they are advertising like that, the good and bad points of the product and why they should or shouldn't buy into the advertising. I started that when my kids were little and told them about not wanting to just throw money at a big business because of a dumb ad. - 5/13/2011   10:57:59 AM
    Given that food companies actually have strategic marketing meetings on directing their advertising to kids, especially little kids, I think this is a step in the right direction. There are company manuals detailing how to get 2-4 year olds hooked on certain products so they'll grow up demanding and eating them for the rest of their lives. Yes, parents bear a certain responsibility but food companies are more aggressive and insidious than telemarketers. Put a coke machine outside the gym; if I drink cola I must be sporty. In most of Europe it's illegal to market to kids under 18 in the way that we do. - 5/13/2011   10:30:34 AM
  • 46
    the main things is education. should be taught at home first.example my 2 years old loves celery why she was taught to try it and encouraged to eat it.but more important she saw me eat it. healthy meals and snacks in school is a huge help because you can not watch what your kids eat all day long. but educations is the key.. how many of us using sparks knew all the healthy options tell we found sparks??? how many of us fully understood all the exercise options. schools not only need to change the food options but they need to increase the exercise for the students. make it apart of the kids activities at school.
    knowledge and teaching is the key. if you feed someone fish they eat and are hungry again, but if you teach someone how to fish they can feed a family and themselves for yrs to come.. it that not how we all have been helped with sparks??? - 5/13/2011   10:12:20 AM
    I am the mother and I decide what my daughter eats. My mom didn't do a good job with me. I ate unhealthy most of the time as she did and still does. I am teaching my daughter to eat healthy and that treats are ok sometimes. We don't eat out much, so that is a treat. We eat as a family everynight and she sees her parents making good choices and she does too. - 5/13/2011   9:46:15 AM
  • 44
    Personally I think this is a joke! I decide what my kids eat, and I make the good choices. It is not the governments job to tell me what I can have, nor is it their job to tell companies what they can sell as long as that product is legal. I love count chocula. It is only available at Halloween time, and I eat a whole box. OOOOHHHHHH. I know some parents (my own included) don't make good choices, but this is about more than healthy food for kids, this is about government interferance. A little here a little there, then pretty soon, they are telling you what to wear, who to marry, how many kids to have, what job to do, etc etc BEWARE - 5/13/2011   9:26:46 AM
  • 43
    As a parent, I have to say what I always say - "Be a parent!" Children don't go to the store to buy the stuff so the only reason they are eating it is because someone is buying it for them. If you don't learn to say no to your children when they are young, you'll have a miserable time as they get older, especially when they are teens. Be a parent and take responsibility for your own actions. - 5/13/2011   9:26:13 AM
  • 42
    As a parent I make the decisions what to buy and feed my kids. I take offense to someone else trying to force their ideas on me. It is all about education. Maybe the government should consider why people buy these cheaply made processed unhealthy foods: Because they can afford them! People have to eat and have to be able to feed their families while paying monstrous bills. If my children were hungry and all I could afford was cheap mac and cheese you better believe that's what I'm getting! Fruits and veggies, organic foods, and "all natural" meats are too pricey for many people. We need to focus on helping the poor not putting them down them as bad parents. - 5/13/2011   9:19:37 AM
  • 41
    My daughter is ten and in my experience, two things have helped in this unhealthy food daughter has seen little tv (and even fewer commercials) and early on, I just said, "No." She doesn't have an expectation that we will get sugary cereals, McDonald's, etc. every time we're out. So, it makes it easier now. - 5/13/2011   7:52:15 AM
  • 40
    I think it's a step in the right direction, just because I think it's morally wrong to be marketing to children who haven't developed the skill set to make decisions. Yes, it's definitely up to the parent ultimately, but the marketing is a way around that. When my son first had sugary cereals, McDonald's, etc. it wasn't with us, it was with friends or with sports teams. We don't control everything that goes into our children's mouths. A big part of it for us was (a) a rule that he had to try as many bites of everything as he was old (so when he was 3, 3 bites, etc.) before deciding he "didn't like" it (and the same rule applied to his friends when they came over, and he was the one explaining it to them!); and (b) discussing commercials with him when they did come on, and why he thought he wanted a particular thing (whether food, toys, etc.). Worked for us. - 5/13/2011   6:41:18 AM
  • 39
    I don't think these regulations are going to change anything -- they are all VOLUNTARY changes. Why would Frosted Flakes get rid of Tony the Tiger if they don't have to? Plus, the "added sugar" regulation is a joke. A serving for a child has to have less than 13g. added sugar to be advertised -- but it's suggested that adults get no more than 10 grams of added sugar per day! Yeah... sweeping reform, that.

    All I can do is be thankful that when I have kids, they'll be growing up in a house where food is made from scratch, TV is non-existent, and "vegetables" refers to delicious green and red and orange plants -- not deep-fried starch. - 5/13/2011   6:33:14 AM
  • 38
    Wonderful post, good news, and fascinating comments. We don't watch tv, severely limit online time, and don't shop at conventional grocery stores as a rule. I think these 3 simple rules have reduced our issues around food marketing enormously. Sound draconian? Well, I am the parent - my house, my rules (but for a reason). - 5/13/2011   5:44:28 AM
  • 37
    I recently just moved to the UK from the US and I must say that I never realized how much companies target kids when it comes to selling products in the US until i moved here. I do believe that it is up to the parent ultimately to decide what their child is eating, but when there's not a fast food restaurant on every corner and dora and spongebob stalking you in the supermarket it is easier to make better decisions. They don't advertise junk food on tv, they don't put cartoon characters and food containers, and they require that you pack a healthy lunch for your child if they are not going to have school dinners. I think that they are on to something here! I love America, don't get me wrong, but i think that the UK is one step ahead of us on this issue! I would love to see the same thing happen in the states! - 5/13/2011   4:25:19 AM
  • 36
    There's no question that it's the responsibility of the parent as so many people are saying, HOWEVER, the reality is that not all parents are competent. Consequently, as a society, we make laws to protect children from incompetent parents. There are plenty of parents out there who wouldn't bother using a car seat, but because it's the law, they do. That's just one example. There are countless others. This is just another law to help protect children from incompetent parenting. I think it's good, but just wish it went further. Marketing junk food to children and selling it in schools should be a federal offense, IMHO.
    - 5/13/2011   12:11:45 AM
  • 35
    I have five grown children and none of them are fat. I was the one who bought groceries and I didn't buy junk cereal, etc. So this is about the parent, NOT the kid. - 5/12/2011   11:55:23 PM
  • 34
    Marketing may make a child beg for a parent to buy the food but essentially the parent is still the person that brings it into the house! I think with strong parenting it shouldn't matter what the marketing strategies are.
    Also getting kids active is a huge problem...I personally have cancelled our cable and bought my two sons new bikes! Just doing my part to keep them fit! - 5/12/2011   9:53:40 PM
  • EMP5081
    I come from a marketing background and did a lot of research on the correlation of advertising to children and obesity. I feel there are several contributing problems. Children the age of 6 months are now being able to identify brands and characters. They recognize the characters and the parents give into buying the products way to easy. I also feel a major contributor is the way the characters are represented on the box. If you crouch down or "duck walk" down a cereal isle you will understand what I'm talking about. The characters eyes are positioned so they are looking down at the level of the children. Although this may seem minor, it effects how the children view the product. Lastly I really feel that the lifestyle of parents (not eating meals at home) is the major factor to why children are gaining weight in our country. - 5/12/2011   9:50:44 PM
  • 32
    I think a big part of the problem is how much tv children watch and (most importantly) how many commercials they watch. If you have big breaks that only advertise to buy and eat something bad, children will get addicted.
    As a child I had sugar cereals for breakfast but I had healthy lunches, snacks and dinners everyday. I still love those sugar cereals but now I'll have healthier cereals for breakfast.
    Another part of the problem is the parents who don't care about what their child eats. I know parents whose child won't eat soup at home or a healthy meal and all they want is potato chips and hamburgers because that's what they eat at home. What's funny is that when these kids go to my cousin's house they eat everything: from soup to broccoli to fish. And their parents don't understand why! If parents don't make the time to provide a healthy meal and learn to say no to every demand their child makes, it won't matter how many guidelines you change.
    Of course I don't live in the USA and we don't have commercials every 5 minutes like you do. - 5/12/2011   8:53:56 PM
  • 31
    I would like to know what countries like France, who do not have the obesity epidemic, do. Is it really the advertising? Do they advertise as we do? Are their school lunches as unhealthy as our school lunches are. What is customarily served for dinner? If we look at what other successful society's do, it could give us insight to help our own. - 5/12/2011   8:06:22 PM
  • 30
    Proof is in what we see now...the kids are obese and diet is a big part of it. Change is needed. They are killing our children with commercials targeting them, grocery stores placing in their eyesight with packaging foe them. It's difficult for parents. Everyone needs to help. Regulate it, keep the sugar content and trans fats low. We don't cater cigarettes to our children and some of the foods are in the same category of how it impacts our children. - 5/12/2011   7:57:02 PM
  • 29
    Gamermom2004 "Everyone who keeps saying the parents should regulate not the govt. don't realize how "fun" it is to deal with a child bugging you for unhealthy food they just saw on TV. Its hard to say no to your child any time. It can be VERY frustrating to say no and listen to them wine and complain."

    WOW. I have no trouble whatsoever saying no to my children. They can whine and cry all they want, No means No. The second you give in, they know what it's going to take to get what they want in the future. I still remember as a kid figuring out things to do and say to get my parents to give me what I wanted. If there's no snack cakes in the house, your kid won't eat snack cakes. You have to make the decision. - 5/12/2011   7:51:44 PM

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