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Marketing to Kids: Talking Points
  • Television ads have a direct influence on what children choose to eat and drink.
  • The majority of foods and drinks marketed to kids are for products high in calories and low in nutrients, clearly out of balance with promoting a healthy diet. 
  • Marketing approaches have become sophisticated, moving far beyond television advertising to include the Internet, advergames, and strategic product placement.
  • Marketers are targeting younger and younger kids, all the way down to infants, in an attempt to establish brand-name preference as early as possible.
  • Efforts to change current marketing practices, diet trends and the prevalence of overweight and obesity will take action on many levels. Raising parents’ awareness that their kids are targets of junk food marketing - and that parents have the power and the responsibility to make good food decisions for their children - is a first step.

Did You Know?

  • Kids view more than 40,000 ads per year on TV alone.
  • 44% of the ads kids see on TV are for candy, snacks and fast food.
  • Advertisers count on your kids to nag and pester you into purchasing their products.
  • Kids younger than 8 years old don’t understand the idea of selling a product and accept advertising claims at face value.
  • Kids younger than 6 years old have difficulty distinguishing advertisements from regular TV shows and movies.
  • Advertising to kids is a $385 billion/year industry. The alcohol, tobacco and prescription drug industries only spend a total of $20.9 billion/year.
  • Several European countries forbid or limit advertising aimed at kids.

Advertising to Children and Adolescents: Resources and Reports

Institute of Medicine - Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity, 2006
This report explores what is known about current food and beverage marketing practices, the influence of these practices on the diets of children and youth, and public and private recommendations and strategies that can be used to promote healthful food and beverage choices in children and youth.
http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3788/21939/31330.aspx 

American Academy of Pediatrics - Children, Adolescents and Advertising, 2006
Exposure to advertising may contribute to childhood and adolescent obesity, poor nutrition, and cigarette and alcohol use. This revised policy statement published in the December 2006 issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls on pediatricians to become aware of the effects of advertising on children’s behavior and to work with parents, schools, and community groups to ban or limit advertising aimed at children. The policy statement supports media education as an effective approach to lessen the effects of advertising on children and adolescents. 
http://www.commercialalert.org/pediatricsadvertising.pdf 

Kaiser Family Foundation Report - Food for Thought, 2007
This study combines content analysis of TV ads with detailed data about children’s viewing habits to provide an estimate of the number and type of TV ads seen by children of various ages.
http://www.kff.org/entmedia/7618.cfm 

The Future of Children: Markets and Childhood Obesity Policy (Princeton - Brookings publication)
One journal article of an entire publication focused on Childhood Obesity, Markets and Childhood Obesity Policy examines the childhood obesity epidemic from the perspective of economics; both the possible causes and possible policy solutions that work through markets.
http://www.futureofchildren.org/information2826/information_show.htm?doc_id=355339