In response to growing concern about children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising, the food industry adopted a program of self-regulation – the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) – with participating companies pledging to limit child-targeted advertising to healthier products. This study assesses the efficacy of industry self-regulation by comparing advertising content on children’s TV programs before and after self-regulation was implemented. A systematic content analysis of food advertisements appearing in children’s TV programs on the most popular cable and broadcast channels was conducted. The study found that all CFBAI-participating companies met their pledges to comply with nutritional standards set by their parent companies and to use licensed characters solely in advertising for healthier products. However, findings indicated that no significant improvement in the overall nutritional quality of foods marketed to children has been achieved since industry self-regulation was adopted. In 2013, 80.5 percent of all foods advertised to children on TV were for products in the poorest nutritional category compared to 79.4 percent in 2007. The lack of significant improvement in nutritional quality is likely a result of weak nutritional standards employed by industry for defining healthy foods, and because not all food marketers participate in the CFBAI.
Evaluating Industry Self-Regulation of Food Marketing to Children
Children and adolescents see between 4,500 and 6,000 food ads on TV each year, the majority of which are for products high in sugar and fat and low in essential nutrients. In April 2011, a coalition of federal authorities known as the Interagency Working Group on Foods Marketed to Children … More
Studying Industry Self-Regulation of the Televised Advertising of Foods and Beverages to Children and its Impact on Nutritional Quality
Research has established that children’s exposure to television ads for non-nutritious food products is a significant risk factor contributing to childhood obesity. The aim of this project is to continue an ongoing, independent evaluation of a food industry self-regulatory program known as the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI). … More
Retailers and other organizations currently use a variety of nutrition standards and recommendations to guide consumers towards healthier, “Better for You”, options. This variety can be confusing to consumers. Healthy Eating Research convened a scientific advisory committee to review existing “Better-For-You” nutrition standards, and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. The … More