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Marketing Fast Foods to Children
August 19, 2002

"I always have trouble remembering three things: faces, names, and-I can't remember what the third thing is." —Fred Allen


In the June 20, 2000 edition of The Christian Science Monitor, Susan Linn and Diane Levin addressed the damage done by the extensive marketing of fast food and candy to children. In part they commented...

"...Too often parents are told that it is their job to promote healthy nutrition, even as corporations undermine their efforts by spending billions of dollars marketing junk food to children.

"...today, despite the 1990 Children's Television Act, which limits advertising time (but not what is advertised) during children's programming, children see about 40,000 commercials on TV each year. A large proportion of advertising on programs children watch is for foods high in fat, sugar, and calories.

"Children are especially vulnerable to the impact of advertising. A recent study out of Stanford University found that one 30-second commercial can influence the brand choices of children as young as 2. Repeated exposures to ads are even more effective. Very young children don't distinguish between a commercial and television programming, and children under 8 aren't able to understand that ads are created to convince people to buy products....

"Society should be supporting parents in their efforts to raise healthy children, not making it more difficult. The United States regulates marketing to children less than most other industrialized democracies. Instead, American children are bombarded by seductive marketing campaigns for soda, candy, flavored French fries, and other foods high in sugar, fat, and salt. Any genuine effort to reduce childhood obesity must attack the problem at its roots. And that means holding the food industry responsible for its role in creating the problem."

Both Susan and Diane are active participants in the campaign "Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children" (SCEC). On September 20 SCEC will hold a summit entitled. "Consuming Kids: Marketers' Impact on Children's Health," in New York City, followed by a protest of the Golden Marble Awards. This protest will take place a just a few yards from the annual "Advertising and Promoting to Kids" conference. For more information on the protest and on SCEC, go to their web site, www.commercialexploitation.com.


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