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Food Marketing to Children Undermines Their Health

by Susan Linn
September/October 2004
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/food-marketing-to-children-undermines-their-health/5015944/

Childhood obesity is a major public health problem in the United States, yet America’s children are targeted as never before with marketing for foods high in sugar, fat, salt, and calories.i The advertising industry’s stance is that parents should bear sole responsibility for what and how much their children eat.ii However, a close look at the nature, depth, and breadth of food marketing aimed at children shows that view to be simplistic.

An escalating problem

While food comprises a significant portion of what’s marketed to children, food marketing occurs in the context of a myriad of commercial messages, including advertising for toys, clothing, media, accessories, and countless other consumer goods to them as well. While children have been targets for advertising since the advent of mass marketing, the intensity and frequency has escalated, as has the amount of money spent. By 1992, corporations were spending about $6 billion annually to target childreniii and by 2003 the figure rose to an estimated $15 billion.iv In the late 20th century, the proliferation of electronic media, the deregulation of advertising on children’s television, and the escalation of marketing in schools combined to allow marketers virtually unfettered access to children.

Children between the ages of 2 and ...

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