Children Seeing Fewer Food and Beverage Ads

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a presentation before a Federal Trade Commission forum, Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) Senior Vice President and Chief Government Affairs Officer Mary Sophos outlined new data showing that children today are seeing fewer food, beverage and restaurant advertisements. And the mix has shifted to more ads that promote healthful choices.

“GMA and its members have a longstanding commitment to help arrest and reverse obesity trends around the world,” said Sophos. “We are continuing to provide a wider range of nutritious product choices and marketing these choices in responsible ways that promote healthy lifestyles. We have joined with others in launching the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation to promote ways to help people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance – balancing calories consumed as part of a healthy diet with calories expended through physical activity.”

As food and beverage marketers have reduced and shifted the mix of products advertised to children (2-11 yrs) and teens (12-17 yrs), a recent Georgetown Economic Services (“GES”) study found that children are seeing fewer food, beverage and restaurant ads on television. For instance:

-Children viewed 31 percent fewer food, beverage and restaurant ads on children’s programming from 2004 to 2008.

-Children are seeing fewer food, beverage and restaurant ads on TV at all times. The number of FB&R ads the average 2-11 year-old viewed on all TV programming has declined 15 percent from 2004 to 2008. Ads seen by children for all other products increased 7 percent between 2004-2008.

-Since 1994 there has been a 27 percent decrease in food, beverage and restaurant ads seen on all TV by the average child.

-More than one-half of that decrease came in the last four years.

-Since 1994 teens viewed 8 percent fewer food, beverage ads and restaurant ads, 28 percent fewer food and beverage ads. -Children are seeing more ads for fruits and vegetables on all TV as well as kids’ TV.

-Children are seeing fewer ads for soft drinks, cookies, snack bars, gum and mints, frozen pizza, breads, and pancakes and waffles.

“Over the last several years, our industry has voluntarily changed its advertising and marketing practices, introduced or reformulated well over 10,000 healthier products (with lower calories, reduced or eliminated trans and saturated fat, reduced sugar and sodium, more vitamins, minerals and whole grains, smaller sizes and portion controlled packaging) and invested in programs that promote increased physical activity and nutrition education as the keys to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

In October, 40 retailers, non-governmental organizations and food and beverage manufacturers announced the launch of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a national, multi-year effort designed to help reduce obesity – especially childhood obesity – by 2015. The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation is promoting ways to help people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance. It focuses on three critical areas – the marketplace, the workplace and schools.

“The food and beverage industry is fully committed to continue working with policymakers, non-governmental organizations, parents, schools, consumer groups, advertisers and other stakeholders to support and encourage healthy lifestyle choices by all Americans. Our efforts are having an impact and we will continue to do our part.”

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