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Prevention Institute

Strategic Alliance Rapid Response: May 10, 2013

New research helps make the case for policies that limit junk food marketing

New research published this month finds uneven exposure to televised junk food marketing among children. The study found that 84 percent of the food commercials aimed at Spanish-speaking kids promoted junk food – such as candy, sugary cereals, fries, and sodas – compared with 72 percent of food ads aired during English-language kid’s programming. Across all child-directed food advertising, less than 1 percent of the ads promoted fruits, vegetables, whole grains or other healthy foods.

While all kids are being fed unhealthy and unacceptable doses of junk food advertising--to the tune of $1.8 billion a year--this study shows significant disparities between the foods marketed on television to Spanish-speaking children as compared to English-speaking children. 

We strongly encourage advocates to use this report to make the case for policy changes that shield all children from predatory junk food marketing. The report is already sparking a media dialogue--add your voice to the conversation! 

Here are some ways you can take action:

  • Post a comment online in response to related coverage you’ve seen, or write a letter to the editor in support of policies that put firm limits on junk food marketing. 
  • Write an Op-Ed or pitch a story to a local reporter highlighting the new data and use it to underscore the importance of your community’s efforts to reduce kids’ exposure to junk food. 
  • Watch and share We’re Not Buying It, a campaign developed to stop junk food marketing to children. 

Here some angles to cover in your letters to the editor, Op-Eds and online comments:

  • We need policies that protect children and families. And that means stronger government oversight of food marketing. The current system puts all the onus on parents to shield their kids. But when food marketers have access to children in schools, in stores, on television, and on the Internet, parents have the odds stacked against them. Policies that limit the reach of junk food marketing shift the balance in the right direction. Our kids’ health can’t wait--we need strong food marketing guidelines that protect kids, and we need them now. 
  • All children deserve access to healthy, affordable food, and protection from manipulative junk food marketing. Food and beverage companies may claim they’re on the side of kids’ health, but they’re flooding children’s programming with junk food advertisements. With junk food starring in 84% of food ads aimed at Spanish-speaking kids, it's clear companies are unfairly targeting Latino children even more aggressively. We need to put children first--not corporate profits--and demand strong policies to limit junk food marketing. 
  • We can’t afford not to invest in prevention. Preventable illness and chronic disease related to unhealthy eating and lack of physical activity accounts for nearly 17% of our health care costs —that’s $168 million a year in medical costs alone. Policies that limit the marketing of junk food to kids are critical strategies if we are to reverse unprecedented surges in Type II diabetes and an array of health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and cancer.

Get something in the news? Send us a quick note so we can make sure your efforts are recognized.

Food Marketers Use SpongeBob, Shrek to Bombard Latino Kids with Commercials

In his latest post for Forbes, PI’s Rob Waters examines new food marketing data and takes a stand against the STOP Act, which would prevent public health agencies like the CDC from speaking out about health. 

California soda tax passes Senate Health Committee

Last week, CA Senate Bill 622, which would establish a statewide soda tax and create a Children’s Health Promotion Fund, passed the Senate Health Committee. Next stop: the bill heads to the Appropriations Committee, where it will need strong support from public health advocates and families up and down the state. Our latest blog post takes a look at SB 622 and explores the need for a statewide soda tax.

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