The U.S. Is No Model on Marketing Food to Kids

Recently Healthy Eating Research (HER), in the U.S., released a report on food marketing to kids, an issues brief with recommendations, and an infographic summarizing the report's main points. HER is influential. It's sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a major source of funding for health research in the United States.

But its recommendations are disappointing. They've been slammed by health researchers, including Marion Nestle, the prominent commentator on the politics of food. The report does little except tweak the U.S. food industry's voluntary guidelines regarding marketing to children. That code is ineffective and can be easily evaded. And yet because the recommendations come from such a prestigious body supported by such an established foundation they risk being given weight that they should not have.

Children are critical to the industry because they constitute three sorts of markets. Kids are a "primary market" because they spend some money themselves. They are an "influence market" as they plead with parents to purchase various goodies. They are a "future market" in terms of them becoming adult consumers.

And, at the moment, Ontario may be looking at various recommendations in this area.

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