Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in partnership with the Cartoon Network, launched an educational nutrition campaign geared toward teaching “tweens,” ages 9 to 13, how to read the nutrition facts on food labels.
“We decided to target tweens, since they're in their formative food choice years and cognitively able to understand the label,” said Marjorie Davidson, a team leader in the FDA's Office of Food Defense, Communication and Emergency Response. “They can also still be an influence on their parents.” The agency decided to work with the Cartoon Network in particular, since its demographic comprises groups suffering from childhood obesity.
Television spots and an interactive Cartoon Network Web page, accessed at www.cartoonnetwork.com/promos/200702_fda/index.html, invite kids to “Spot The Block, Get Your Food Facts First.”
Among other things, the Web tool lets kids know the following three food basics: Remember that one package isn't necessarily one serving; when looking at a food's calories, remember, 40 is low, 100 is moderate, 400 is high; and pick foods that are lower in certain fats, cholesterol and sodium when making daily food choices — a 5% daily value is low, a 20% daily value is high.
The FDA and Cartoon Network expect their messages to receive about 78 million impressions over the first year of operation, which will be completed this February.
“My indications are that we'll exceed it,” said Davidson.