Nutrition and Food
Marketing to Children
Amanda Crane, Dietetic Intern
University of Virginia Health System
May 13, 2015
• Background of food marketing (Assessment)
Statistics, findings, past trends
The media’s influence on children’s health
Marketing methods
Types of foods advertised
• Identifying the issues (Diagnosis)
• What is being done (Intervention)
• Responsible marketing recommendations
• Progression made (Monitoring/Evaluation)
• Food marketing trends today
• Identify the major challenges for health promotion caused by
food marketing agencies
• Understand the impact of food marketing on children’s health
• Embody the role of the RDN and become aware of actions to
take to combat marketing unhealthy food to children
• Play an active role in identifying and recognizing child-directed
food marketing techniques and strategies
Children: ages 2-11 years
Teens/Adolscents: ages 12-18
Youth: children and teens collectively
Child-directed marketing: children under 12 years old who
constitute at least 35% of the expected audience at the time
of advertisement purchase
• QSR: Quick-service restaurant
• CFBAI: Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative
• Ad: advertisement of any kind
Children’s Food and Beverage Initiative. 2014.
The ugly truth
Overview of Marketing to Children:
Homework review
• Find anything surprising?
• Specific food groups you noticed?
• Fruit/vegetables
• Junk food
• Dairy products
• Where were the ads located?
Brief health background
• Approximately 17% of US children and adolescents (ages 2-19
years) were obese from 2011-2012
• Prevalence of obesity among 2-5 year olds decreased from
13.9% in 2003-2004 to 8.4% in 2011-2012
• Estimated that at least 191,986 youth had DM in 2009
• Annually, 18,436 diagnosed with type 1 and 5,089 diagnosed with
type 2
“The dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and
adolescents are influenced by many sectors of society, including
families, communities, schools, child care settings, medical care
providers, faith-based institutions, government agencies, the
media, and the food and beverage industries and entertainment
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015.
What’s going on with food marketing?
• FTC report in 2008 and follow-up in 2012
• Requested by Congress from growing childhood obesity rates
• 44 major food and beverage marketers
• Data about expenditures in 2009 of marketing activities to
children and/or teens of 10 food categories
• Comprehensive data regarding marketing expenses, nutrition
profile, target market, marketing strategies and regulations
Ad exposure
Youth spent 7.5 hours using media per day in 2011
29.5% of commercials to children were for food and beverages
7.6 food ads were shown to children per hour in 2009
2014: ads viewed per day for foods, beverages and restaurants
• Children- 12.8
• Adolescents- 15.2
• 2014: ads for fast food seen daily
• Children- 4.9
• Adolescents- 6.2
• About 1 ad per week for healthy food in comparison
UConn Rudd Center, 2015.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2011.
Marketing costs
• 2006- nearly $2.1 billion spent on youth
• $1.3 billion directed toward children
• $1 billion directed toward teens
• 2009- $1.79 billion spent on youth
• $1 billion directed toward children
• $1 billion directed toward teens
• 18.5% of all consumer-directed marketing
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
Target population
• Children and teenagers primarily
• Future adult market
• Major influence on food choices
• “Pester power”
• Restaurants, types of foods
• Vulnerable to food marketing
• Sensitive to brands
• Children/teens ages 12-14:
• Greater independence
• Greater amount of media consumption
White House Task Force, 2010.
Methods of marketing
Company-sponsored websites
Internet and digital advertising
Word-of-mouth and viral
Packaging and labeling
In-store displays
Movie theater, video, video
Public entertainment events
• Product placement
• Character licensing, crosspromotions, toy co-branding
• Sponsorship of sports or
• Specialty item or premium
• Celebrity endorsements
• In-school marketing
• Advertising with conjunction to
philanthropic endeavors
Where foods are marketed
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
Key question…
As nutrition experts, why should we care
about how or where foods and beverages
are marketed?
Reasons to care
1. Food and beverage companies are
undermining our authority as health
professionals to promote the consumption of
healthy foods and beverages
• Also undermines parents’ ability to encourage healthy
2. Food and beverage companies have the funds
to promote their products
3. Children are exposed to a wide range of
commercials and advertisements upon
stepping out of our office
• 35% of all youth-directed marketing expenditures
• $632 million spent
• For children
• QSR and breakfast cereals make up 68%
• Fruit expenditures increased by 33%
• For teens
• Carbonated beverages and QSR most common
• Fruit/veg had a 334.3% increase
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
New media
• Company-sponsored websites, internet, digital, word-ofmouth and viral marketing
• 7% of all reported youth-directed media
• 50.5% increase from 2006
• Children- breakfast cereals, QSR foods and snacks
• Teens- carbonated beverages, candy/frozen or chilled desserts
and snacks
• Significant increase with QSR foods, fruit and veg, juice/noncarbonated beverages
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
Types of foods marketed
• $1.29 billion spent on QSR foods, carbonated beverages and
breakfast cereals (72% of total) to youth
• QSR foods: $714 million
• Carbonated beverages: $395 million
• Breakfast cereals: $186 million
• <1% of ads were for vegetables and whole grain products
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
Types of foods marketed
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
Marketing changes: children
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
Marketing changes: teens
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
Overview of nutritional content
Overall improved nutritional content for children
Calorie and sodium content higher for children
Sugar content for both age groups decreased, lower for children
Improvements due to reformulation of old and introduction of
new products
Nutritional content cont.
Nutritional content cont.
Food Category
Breakfast Cereals
WG: 2 g/serving
Sugar: -0.94 g
WG: 2 g/serving
Sugar: -1.41 g
Kcals: -18
Sodium: -13 mg
Added Sugar: -6 g
Kcals: -20
Sodium: -31 mg
Added Sugar: -5 g
Dairy Products
Kcals: -24
Calcium: 13% change in
Kcals: -19
Calcium: 0.95% change in
Kcals: -3
Sodium: -26 mg
WG: 0.5 g/serving
Kcals: 4
Sodium: 3 mg
WG: 1.33 g/serving
Kcals: -81
Sodium: -57 mg
Kcals: -43
Sodium: -15 mg
WG= Whole Grains
Federal Trade Commission, 2012.
Key question…
So, exactly how does this impact
children’s health, nutrition or dietary and
lifestyle choices?
Impact on children
• Studies show TV ads affect children’s food choices, purchase
requests, diets and health
• Cartoon characters affect children’s food requests and what
they’re willing to eat
• Children do not have cognitive ability to understand
persuasive intent of marketing or defend against influence
• APA endorses marketing restrictions to children under age 8
• FTC: “food marketers and media can play meaningful role…to
make better food choices and be more physically active”
Rudd center, 2014.
Impact on nutrition
“You are what you eat”
Obesity rates
Weight gain
Learned behaviors/habits throughout adult years
Health conditions later in life
Pester power
• Specific foods bought and consumed
• Picky eaters- lacking nutrients
• Restaurants
What is the nutrition diagnosis
for this problem?
PES Statement 
• Excessive energy intake related to marketing of energy-dense
foods and beverages as evidenced by childhood obesity rates
• Food and nutrition-related knowledge deficit related to poor
marketing of nutritious foods as evidenced by children’s food
• Poor nutrition quality of life related to persuasive food
marketing as evidenced by food and beverage choices
What is being done?
Criteria, policies, regulations
Interagency Working Group (IWG)
The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity
UConn RUDD Center
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research
National Restaurant Association’s Kids Live Well criteria
Guidelines for Responsible Marketing to Children
Smart Snacks in Schools Standards
Individual food and beverage company nutrition standards
Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Laws banning junk food in schools
School Nutrition Guidelines
WE CAN! Initiative
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2015.
• Launched in 2006
• Goal: “change the mix of advertising messages directed
primarily to children under age 12 to promote healthier
dietary choices and lifestyles”
• Working with leading consumer packaged goods companies
and restaurants
• Participants agree to abide by established criteria
• Self-regulating initiative
Council of Better Business Bureaus
Council of Better Business Bureaus
CFBAI limitations
Only 18 participating companies
Age 12 and under
“Child-directed” not entirely effective
Nutrition standards only on products pictured in media
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2015.
What else is being done?
• Walt Disney media including advertisements, promotions and
sponsorships will meet the company’s updated nutrition
guidelines by 2015
• Sesame Street Workshop announced it will allow royalty-free
character licensing for produce companies to use Sesame
Street characters to promote fruits and vegetables between
2014 and 2015
• Pledges, protests and legislative work and working groups
• Laws banning junk food in schools
Key question…
In what ways can health professionals such
as RDs become involved in reducing
children’s exposure to unhealthy food
What you can do
• Support pledges and acts to advance bills into laws through
legislative and workgroups
• Food Marketing Workgroup :
• Protect Kids from Junk Food Marketing:
• Identify and explain marketing techniques and strategies to
• Support public policies related to food marketing to children
• Join public policy or community nutrition MIG and DPD groups
What will we monitor to track progress?
Current trends
• 24.5% all children’s TV programming in 2013= food
• In 2014, children saw 14 candy ads and 31 fast food ads for
every one fruit or vegetable commercial viewed
• Frequency of children’s TV ads dropped 25%
• “No significant improvement in nutritional quality of foods…”
• Self-regulating agencies not effective in reducing unhealthy
foods marketed to children
• 80.5% of all foods advertised to children on TV were for
products in poorest nutrition category
Kunkel DL, Castonguay JS, Filer CR, 2015.
UConn Rudd Center, 2015.
2014 update
UConn Rudd Center, 2015.
CFBAI- update
• New uniform criteria in effect as of 12/31/2013 organized
around 10 categories
• Now 18 companies
• FTC 2012 report: “promising signs” and “further
• Major support from The First Lady
• CFBAI ad expenditure= 89% of all food advertising
expenditures to children
• 100% compliance with pledges and nutritional guidelines from
Council of Better Business Bureau. 2014
Responsible marketing
• Recommendations for responsible marketing include:
• Defining child audience age range- any marketing targeting
children from birth through age 14
• Brands marketed to children should only contain foods that meet
nutrition criteria
• If the media is deemed to be directed to children then marketed
foods or beverages should meet nutrition criteria
• Advertising or marketing in school including pre-schools,
elementary, middle and high schools is by definition childdirected and should only promote food and beverage products or
brands that meet nutrition criteria
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2015.
Future broadcast
• Participation from other food and beverage companies
• Re-assessment of new media (apps, internet, viral marketing)
• Broaden focus of interventions to include adolescents ages 14
and under
• Evaluation of CFBAI new nutrition 2014 criteria
• More and better commercials on all forms of media
My Mixify and Cuties:
Final thoughts…
• Some well-supported and major strides have been made but
there is always room for improvement
• Trends going in right direction- “baby steps”
• Nutritional content improved in 2009 with CFBAI, however
current trends showing unhealthy foods are still heavily
• Although childhood obesity rates remained stable in 20112012, efforts are still necessary for reducing the exposure to
unhealthy food marketing
• Self-regulation although helpful, is not entirely effective alone
Thank you!
Kid President.
• Council of Better Business Bureaus. Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative
• Federal Trade Commission. A Review of Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents.
December 2012.
• White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity. 2011.
• Kunkel D, McKinley C, Wright P. The impact of industry self-regulation on the nutritional quality
of foods advertised on television to children. Ch1ldren Now. 2009.
• Cynthia L. Ogden, PhD1; Margaret D. Carroll, MSPH1; Brian K. Kit, MD, MPH1,2; Katherine
M. Flegal, PhD1Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012
• Centers for Disease Control. Diabetes in Youth. Last updated October 29, 2014.
• Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Recommendations for Responsible Marketing to Children.
January 2015.
• Powell LM, Schermbeck RM, Chaloupka FJ. Nutritional content of food and beverage products
in television advertisements seen on children’s programming. Child Obes. 2013;9(6):524-531
• The Food marketing Workgroup website. 2012.
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood Obesity Facts. Last updated April 24,
• Kolish ED, Enright M, Oberdorff B, The children’s food and beverage advertising initiative in
action. Council of Better Business Bureaus. December 2014.
• Shehan CV, Harris JL. Trends in television food advertising to young people: 2014 update.
UConn Rudd Center. March 2015.
• Harris JL, Heard A, Schwartz MB. Older but still vulnerable: all children need protection from
unhealthy food marketing. Yale Rudd center. January 2014.
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Childhood Obesity Facts. Last updated September
3, 2014.
• Kunkel, DL, Castonguay JS, Filer CR. Evaluating industry self-regulation of food marketing to
children. Am J Prev Med 2015. 1-7.
Image References
• Barbie Pop Tarts.
• Dora the Explorer Popsicles.
• Macaroni and Cheese.
• Avengers Soda Cans.
• Kid President.