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Children and adolescents target of $1.6 billion in food advertising in 2006
Detail: A new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report studied how much companies are spending to attract youth to their products. The findings show that the nation's largest food and beverage companies spent about $1.6 billion in 2006 marketing their products, especially carbonated drinks, to children and adolescents through a barrage of advertising for food and drink. Concerned about rising obesity rates in children, the FTC report recommends to industry to use their creativity to market healthy foods to children instead of unhealthy ones and to take steps to tie popular TV and movie characters to more nutritional products.

The commission found that companies spread their marketing across all segments of the media. Television ads provide a theme that usually carried over to packaging and displays in stores, and to the Internet where entry of a code on a package allowed children to participate in games or contests with prizes. In fact the commission report says, "The Internet — though far less costly than television — has become a major marketing tool of food companies that target children and adolescents, with more than two-thirds of the 44 companies reporting online, youth-directed activities."

The FTC made several recommendations as part of its report:

• Media and entertainment companies should limit the licensing of characters to healthier foods and drinks.
• Schools should adopt meaningful nutrition standards for the foods that are sold there, and companies should cease all in-school promotion of products that don't meet such standards.
• Companies that market food and drinks to children should expand public-outreach efforts to educate children about the importance of healthy eating and exercise, with particular attention aimed at minority populations that are disproportionately affected by childhood obesity.

The commission noted that its review came during a year in which food and beverage companies had committed to curtailing the marketing of unhealthy products. For example, it noted that 13 companies representing more than two-thirds of advertising spending directed toward children had pledged to not direct their ads to children under 12 unless the foods met specific nutritional standards.

For full story see http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080729/ap_on_go_ot/children_marketing_food
Source: By KEVIN FREKING, “FTC: Kids target of $1.6 billion in food ads”, Tuesday, Jul 29
Date: July 29 2008