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FTC proposes new guidelines on food ads for children

We’re not really sure what to make of this one.  Here’s how the New York Times describes the new guidelines:

Regulators are asking food makers and restaurant companies to make a choice: make your products healthier or stop advertising them to youngsters.

The food industry complains that it already has its own program in place to limit the advertising of unhealthy foods to children: the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative.  But the industry program’s requirements are kind of a joke– each company is allowed to set its own nutritional criteria and it only applies to some forms of advertising. So Kellog’s standards for example allow it to advertise high sugar cereals like Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes to young children.

The FTC’s new guidelines would apply to more types of ads, including digital ads, and set standard regulations across the food industry for what counts as healthy foods.  Cereals, for example, would have to have less than 8 grams of added sugar, meaning those Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops would have to lose some sugar or stop advertising to kids.

But we’re not sure how big an impact even these stricter guidelines will have on childhood obesity, since they’re still voluntary. Right now, it’s unclear how many food companies and restaurants will choose to adopt them.

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