by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Marketing to kids

Aug 9 2019

Annals of Marketing: A Sugary Cereal for Toddlers

Coming soon to a supermarket near you: Baby Shark cereal.

I am so out of it.  I never heard of the song, Baby Shark, before seeing this story about Kellogg’s new cereal—aimed at toddlers.

The song, I gather, is adored by babies, less so by their parents, but never mind: it is expected to sell lots of cereal.

I searched for a Nutrition Facts label online, but could not find one (the cereal won’t be available until mid-September, apparently.

I did see this at the bottom corner of the box:

One and one-third cup of this stuff provides 150 calories, 190 mg of sodium, and 15 grams of sugars.  Oh great, 40% of calories from sugars.

Another sugary cereal for kids, this one for little kids!

Do food companies market directly to children?  Yes, they do.

Jan 30 2019

Guess what: advertising to kids sells food products

It never occurred to me that we needed more research to prove that advertising to kids makes them want food products, pester their parents to buy the products, say they like the products, and actually eat the products.

That was the conclusion of a hugely important study from the Institute of Medicine in 2006.

You can download that report from the link.  It’s still worth reading.

Obviously, the points it made still need reinforcing.  Hence: this study.

Exposure to Child-Directed TV Advertising and Preschoolers. Intake of Advertised Cereals. Jennifer A. Emond, Meghan R. Longacre, Keith M. Drake, et al.  American Journal of Preventive Medicine, December 17, 2018.

The authors measured whether exposure to TV advertisements for kids’ breakfast cereals affected pre-schoolers’ intake of those cereals.

No surprise.  It did.

In this figure, the dots to the right of the vertical line indicate increased intake of the cereals after exposure to the ads.

I’d say the ads are doing what marketers hope they will do (except for Honey Nut Cheerios).  Ads for Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles seem particularly effective.

The authors point out that food companies say they are no longer marketing to children under the age of six.  Obviously, they still are.

This is what parents are up against.  What to do?

Turn off the TV!  Call for regulation!

Nov 23 2018

WHO Europe report on marketing junk foods to kids: not much progress

Nobody should be surprised by the results of the latest WHO report on the lack of progress in curbing the marketing of highly processed junk foods to children.

 

The report looks at marketing policies across WHO Europe’s member countries.  The data show that while about half the countries have taken some steps to limit junk food marketing to kids, even these steps do not go nearly far enough.

Actions focus mainly on

  • Advertising but ignore other methods for reaching children.
  • Children up to age 12 or 13, but not others.

The report notes the need for more consistent definitions and regulations across the various countries, especially with respect to digital media.

The report documents the negative effects of highly processed foods on kids’ health.  It also documents the uphill nature of addressing this problem.

From the standpoint of the food industry, marketing to children in the line in the sand.  They cannot stop marketing to kids and still sell junk foods aimed at kids.

The report provides plenty of evidence for food companies’ prioritizing profit over public health.

Oct 25 2018

Do kids need foods just for them? Hint: not after infancy

This is a collection of articles from the industry newsletter, FoodNavigator.com, about marketing foods to kids—kids’ food.

Really, kids would be much better off eating the healthy foods their parents eat.  They don’t need food aimed just at them.  Much of this is about selling products to busy parents.  Here’s how companies do it.

Feb 16 2018

Weekend reading for kids: Eat This!

Andrea Curtis.  Eat This!  How Fast-Food Marketing Gets You to Buy Junk (and how to fight back).  Red Deer Press, 2018.

This, amazingly, is a 36-page toolkit for fighting marketing to kids, with endorsements from Mark Bittman and Jamie Oliver, among others.

As I read it, it’s a manual for teaching food literacy to kids—teaching them how to think critically about all the different ways food and beverage companies try to get kids to buy their products or pester their parents to do so.

The “fighting back” part takes up just two pages, but it suggests plenty of projects that kids can do:

Do taste tests of fast food and the same thing home made.  “Which one is more delicious, more expensive, more healthy?  Which creates the least amount of waste?”

Watch your favorite show…Mark down how many times you see product placement.”

“Quick: think of all the fast-food mascots you know by name…Who are the mascots aimed at?”

The illustrations are kid-friendly as is the text.  I’m guessing this could be used easily with kids from age 8 on.

 

Jan 26 2018

Weekend reading: marketing to kids of color

The Berkeley Media Studies Group has a new framing brief on food-industry targeting of minority communities, how it works, and what to do about it.

Here’s an illustration from the report:

If you want to stop this sort of thing, here’s how.

Oct 19 2017

Childhood obesity: progress in the UK, not so much in the US

FoodNavigator reports that Public Health England is taking on—what a concept!—calories as a means to prevent childhood obesity.

It will be looking at ready-to-serve meals, pizzas, burgers, savory snacks, and sandwiches in an effort to help children cut back on the excess 200-300 calories a day they are currently consuming.

The UK is planning targeted reductions in sugars in processed foods.

The food industry doesn’t like this: bans on advertising sugary foods to kids are “choking the industry.”

I once attended a White House meeting at which I heard representatives of food companies insist that they could not stop marketing to children.  This was their line in the sand.  They had to keep marketing to children to stay in business.

As for the United States, the CDC has just published the latest data on obesity in adults and children.

The trend?  Upward.

Looks like marketing to kids works, and well.

Public health, anyone?

Sep 14 2017

FoodNavigator-USA’s Special Edition on Kids’ Food

Food Navigator is an industry newsletter useful for keeping up with food industry interests.  In Special Editions, it collects articles on specific topics, this on on food for kids.

Special Edition: Food for kids!

Almost a third of American children aged 10-17 are dealing with overweight or obesity, and many are lacking in essential nutrients from potassium, dietary fiber and calcium, to vitamin D. So how can the food industry respond to these concerns and develop more nutritious, but appealing snacks, meals and beverages for kids? We explore innovations targeting every life stage, from a new wave of baby food brands to Paleo meat sticks for tweens.