Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Junk Food Marketing In Schools

Food Industry Suggests Change But Maintains Marketing To Children In Schools and A New Bill In Congress Will Evaluate School Based Marketing.

Given the fact that the incidence of childhood obesity and diabetes has grown to epidemic proportions with millions of young boys and girls being affected, you would think that schools would have stepped up their involvement in combating this situation by completely eliminating the marketing and sale of junk food and low nutrition quality foods to students. Sadly this is not the case.

It is a sad fact that companies have heavily marketed their junk food products in schools for years and it has only trended in a more saturating direction. The rising concern over childhood obesity and diabetes has caused some attention to this situation so in a preemptive move the food industry has issued a set of new marketing guidelines through a self regulating body called the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. This organization is funded by the food industry giants including Burger King, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Hershey Company, McDonald's, Campbell Soup Company, and other major food companies.

Here is the conundrum. The initiative's statement,Fact Sheet On Elementary School Advertising Principles, suggests that the member companies will stop direct marketing to children in elementary schools. However, they can still sell their products in schools, they will still be advertising in schools by sponsoring PSA's, educational materials and curricula. They can also advertise on vending machines, display racks, lunch tray liners, label collection, and even menu boards. What is really changing here? Sounds like just shifting marketing strategies to me.

Here is a suggestion, eliminate the sale of junk food in schools, eliminate junk food vending machines and offer higher nutrient quality foods in vending machines, eliminate all advertising of food products in schools - No sponsored ads, no tray liners, no mascots or spokespersons like Ronald Mcdonald allowed, no junk food candy sales, no marketing of food as a reward such as is the case with Pizza Hut's marketing program that is allowed under these new guidelines. Serve real food with plenty of raw food choices.

The new legislation introduced this month, H.R. 3625: Food Marketing In Schools Assessment Act, will seek to evaluate the state of food marketing in schools as well as the nutritional quality of food served in schools to address the childhood obesity epidemic. Let's see if anything truly effective will result from this new bill.

Center For Science In The Public Interest


Brian, the old man said...

I agree with you 100%!!! We must educate our children in good nutrition. In 1985, less than 10% of the population was obese, today it is well above 30%. The CDC reports that 67% of the population is either obese or overweight. WAKE UP AMERICA! We must put an end to the Ronald McDonald's and the Burger Kings. We killed Joe Camel when we finally decided to take a stand against the tobacco industry. Let's stand up against the food industry and let them know we demand healthy choices and we demand nutrition education for our children. This is an epidemic requiring our attention.

Jackie said...

We are fighting the same battle as you on the other side of the pond. We 've managed to kick junk food out of schools now post jamie Oliver revolution but it is all over TV, films, websites that kids see regularly.

We are also fighting off an attempt to introduce product placement on UK TV

See our website

You can also see UK school food on my blog

Keep up the good work!

Jackie said...

We are fighting the same battle as you on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Junk food advertising to kids undermines all the education and health messages we try to pass on.

Have a look at our website to see our campaign

We have managed for the most part to get junk food itself out of school. If you would like to see some pics of UK school food have a look at my blog

Keep up the good work - will follow you on twitter

TC said...

Thanks Brian and Jackie. This issue is truly one that needs serious attention and true change to really be a factor in changing the trend of obesity in this world.