Back in May, we reported on a set of voluntary guidelines the FTC had proposed to limit the marketing of unhealthy food to young children. With childhood obesity on the rise, these guidelines could make a big difference. Take cereal for example– in 2007 the average child saw 757 TV ads for breakfast cereal. Consumer Reports found that 11 of the most popular cereals were over 40% sugar by weight, and two of them- Post Golden Crisp and Kellog’s Honey Smacks- were over half sugar. Under the FTC’s proposed guidelines, cereal that’s marketed to kids in TV and digital ads could only have 8 grams of sugar or less.
The food industry responded to these voluntary guidelines by, well, lobbying like crazy against them. It seems they’ve had some success, as this week the FTC submitted a statement to Congress saying that they’re “contemplating revising them to more narrowly focus on those marketing techniques that our studies suggest are used most extensively to market to children.”
Among the possible revisions: making the guidelines only apply to marketing aimed at children up to 12 instead of up to 18, and removing entertainment, sport, and theme park activities from the law’s guidelines, since those events target a wider audience than just children.