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U.S. Proposes Stricter Guidelines Limiting Unhealthy Food Advertising to Kids

Posted on May 10, 2011

The federal government released new guidelines April 28 pressuring food companies to reduce marketing of unhealthy foods to children by 2016. The guidelines aim to limit advertising tactics aimed at children, such as the use of cartoon characters, online video games, and free toys, for foods high in sugar, fat or salt.

The Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control developed the guidelines, which were created at the request of Congress. The guidelines require that foods that advertise to children include healthful ingredients, like whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, or low fat milk, and do not contain unhealthful amounts of sugar, saturated fat, trans fat and salt.

Although the guidelines are voluntary, experts suggest that companies will face significant pressure to adopt them. Margo Wooton, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “With all the concern about childhood obesity, I think there’s a lot of pressure on companies to do the right thing and follow these standards.”

Several Schubert Center Faculty Associates study childhood obesity and related health problems.

  • Dr. Leona Cuttler of the Department of Pediatrics studies diabetes and childhood obesity.
  • Dr. Elaine Borawski of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods studies various health behavior interventions aimed at obesity and diet modification.
  • Dr. Marilyn Lotas of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing recently spoke at the Schubert Center on her research on childhood hypertension and obesity in Cleveland public schools. A policy brief on that study can be downloaded here.

To read a New York Times article on the new guidelines, click here.

Page last modified: March 21, 2014