by Marion Nestle
Nov 13 2009

FTC looks at marketing to children

Thanks to Margo Wootan of CSPI for sending me the text of a speech by David Vladeck, the new director of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection, in which he discusses his agency’s priorities.  One of these is marketing to children.

And about time too.  The last time the FTC wanted to restrict advertising to kids was in 1978.  Then, Congress ridiculed the agency (What?  Restrict free speech?  Horrors!), and promptly passed a law preventing the FTC from taking action.  The head of the FTC, Mike Pertschuk, was fired and that was that (see Giant Killers, for his version of what happened).

Well, times have changed.  Kids are a lot fatter.  Trying to stop relentless food marketing aimed at children now seems like a pretty good idea.  Can’t wait!

  • Kim

    I agree, it is a problem in the business world (marketing towards children), but it is also the parent/(s) who are responsible for what their children are exposed to and the parental responsibility to say “no” to their children. I think we need a double effort of reducing marketing towards children and educating/encouraging parents to be smart about their family’s food choices.

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  • Anthro

    Kim – Yes, parents have a responsibility toward their children, but short of killing the television, which I heartily recommend, but which is not likely, how are parents supposed to avoid the massive mass-marketing toward their children? The industry spends millions hiring psychologists to teach them how to get children to nag their parents. Advertising is even present in many schools. What chance do parents have against this onslaught? Once children reach middle school or thereabouts, peers become much more important than parents and it gets even more difficult to enforce a family’s individual values–especially if they run counter to the mainstream culture.

    I agree that there are two sides to this, but the equation is so lopsided in favor of the food corporations and their advertising enablers, that parents have a very tough row to hoe indeed.

  • Parents have the ultimate responsibility for the health of their children.Most of them however, are overweight & out of shape themselves and set a horrible example.If this country is to do anything about the fat problem,measures like those of the FTC are imperative,otherwise it’s just more lip service.The playing field is way out of balance in favor of big companies with big money pushing their garbage disguised as food on the population.We need all the help we can get.Hooray for the FTC-finally !

  • We should take a lead from Sweden and other Nordic countries where there are controls on television advertising and marketing to children covering food products.

  • Bobby

    Big companies run Amerika to the detriment of the citizens? I am shocked, shocked to find that out about our country.

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