WASHINGTON — The food and beverage industry should extend its self-regulatory program to cover all forms of marketing to children, and food retailers should avoid in-store marketing that promotes unhealthy products to children.
These are two of the food-marketing recommendations of the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity’s report to the president, released Tuesday. The task force was created as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let's Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic.
Current guidelines limit only certain types of child-directed advertising — including television, print, radio and the Internet — but do not apply to in-store advertising, product packaging and many other forms of marketing, according to the report.
“For truly meaningful and effective self-regulation, all forms of child-directed marketing should be covered,” according to the report.
Retailers have an important role to play, since they control what products are placed at children’s eye level and can impact in-store advertising, including at the point-of-sale, the report states.
The report makes recommendations in five areas: getting children a healthy start on life; empowering parents and caregivers; providing healthy food in schools; improving access to healthy, affordable food; and getting children more physically active. Among other food-marketing recommendations:
— All media and entertainment companies should limit the licensing of their popular characters to food and beverage products that are healthy and consistent with science-based nutrition standards.
— The food and beverage industry and the media and entertainment industry should jointly adopt meaningful, uniform nutrition standards for marketing food and beverages to children, as well as a uniform standard for what constitutes marketing to children.
— The food and beverage industry and the media and entertainment industry should create an on-air labeling system that helps consumers easily distinguish between advertising for healthy and unhealthy foods.
If voluntary efforts do not work, the FCC could consider revisiting and modernizing rules on commercial time during children’s programming, according to the report.
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