Whenever children watch the popular children's network Nickelodeon, nearly 80 percent of food ads they see are promoting foods of poor nutritional quality, according to an analysis conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
This is only "a modest and not quite statistically significant drop from 2005, when CSPI researchers found that about 90 percent of food ads on Nick were for junk food," CSPI announced.
The watchdog organization points out that between the two studies (in 2005 and 2009), the food industry instituted a self-regulatory program through the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).
Of 452 foods and beverages that companies claim are acceptable to market to children, 267, or nearly 60 percent, do NOT meet CSPI's recommended nutrition standards for food marketing to children, such as General Mills' Cookie Crisp and Reese’s Puffs cereals, Kellogg Apple Jacks and Cocoa Krispies cereals, Kellogg Rice Krispies Treats, Campbell's Goldfish crackers and SpaghettiOs, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and many Unilever Popsicles.
"While industry self-regulation is providing some useful benchmarks, it's clearly not shielding children from junk food advertising, on Nick and elsewhere," said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan.
"It's a modest start, but not sufficient to address children’s poor eating habits and the sky-high rates of childhood obesity."
"Nickelodeon should be ashamed that it earns so much money from carrying commercials that promote obesity, diabetes, and other health problems in young children," Wootan said. "If media and food companies don't do a better job exercising corporate responsibility when they market foods to children, Congress and the FTC will need to step in to protect kids’ health."
Wootan makes some valid points. Nick should be embarrassed by the fact that so many TV ads pitch junk foods that can lead to obesity, diabetes and more.
It's time, I believe, for the government to step in to prevent junk food advertising to kids.