Food Advertising Policy in the United States
Case Study #4-1 of the Program: ''Food Policy For Developing Countries: The Role Of Government In The Global Food System''
Marketing food to children is a complex, creative, and well-funded business in the United States. Food manufacturers are estimated to spend up to US$10 billion a year marketing foods to children, using a variety of techniques including television ads, magazine ads, Internet games, promotional packaging, give-aways, and corporate sponsorships and donations to schools. The overwhelming majority of foods marketed to children are high-calorie, highfat, and high-sugar foods, leading health experts and advocates to propose a strong link between increased food advertisements directed to children and the disturbing rise in overweight children in the United States and worldwide. Some advocates call for new, more stringent guidelines on marketing food to children; food marketing is largely a self-regulated process, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) playing a limited role. The primary self-regulatory body is the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU), funded by industry to monitor ads directed at children and enforce guidelines pertaining to the truth, accuracy, and appropriateness of the ads for children. Guidelines specifically related to food advertisements state that the ads should encourage “sound use” of the product “with a view to the healthy development of the child and development of good nutritional practices” (NARC 2004, 12). Concerns have been raised, however, about whether industry is sufficiently motivated to enforce regulations on itself and whether it truly has the best interests of children in mind. Some countries, like Norway and Sweden, have completely banned all advertisements to children during children's programming.
14 pp.©Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. All rights reserved. This case study may be reproduced for educational purposes without express permission but must include acknowledgment to Cornell University. No commercial use is permitted without permission.
Cornell University Division of Nutritional Sciences
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Previously Published As
Leigh Gantner (2007). Case Study #4-1 , ''Food Advertising Policy in the United States''. In: Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Fuzhi Cheng (editors), ''Food Policy for Developing Countries: Case Studies.''14 pp.