Kids food ads playing to a smaller audience: Ratings still poor

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He thought it couldn t be done, but after reading Karen Kaplan s latest article in the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Ross is now a believer that you can indeed turn lemonade into lemons. Reporting on a recent study from the University of Illinois in Chicago, Ms. Kaplan focuses on how children are inundated with ads featuring high-fat, high-sugar, high-sodium, and generally unhealthy fare, even though the research results demonstrate a drop in the total number of food-related ads seen by kids.

As part of the Children s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) in 2006, 17 companies voluntarily agreed to cut back on their kid-focused ads, and their efforts seemingly paid off. Compared to 2003, children aged two to five saw an 18 percent decline in the number of food commercials viewed per day, while those between the ages of six and 11 witnessed a 7 percent drop in the number of daily ads. The only increase in food-advertising commercials was observed in ads for fast food restaurants, which went up by 21 to 31 percent between 2003 and 2009.

But what kind of unhealthy foods are we talking about here? If they categorize things such as cereal or ice cream as unhealthy due to various nutritional components, that doesn t mean that they should be eliminated from a balanced diet if consumed in moderation, says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan.

The advertisements have lowered in frequency overall, so why are people still grumbling? ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross wonders. Some critics of the food industry will never be satisfied by anything less than a complete ban of whatever they consider kids food ads.