Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative defends strides made in the marketing of children’s foods.

  • In the mid-2000s, concerns were raised about the extent to which children’s food marketing focused on products high in salt, sugar, and fat.  In 2006, the food industry formed a voluntary self-regulatory program called the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) with the goal of promoting healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles in advertisements to children under 12.
  • In April 2015, an article in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine detailed the results of a 2013 advertising survey and criticized child-targeted food ads for continuing to promote less healthy options.  Specifically, the study assessed the foods in child-targeted ads against nutritional quality standards proposed by an Interagency Working Group on Foods Marketed to Children (IWG) in 2011, which would have limited saturated fat to 1 gram or less, trans fat to less than 0.5 grams, sodium to 210 milligrams or less, and added sugars to 13 grams or less per serving.  The Director of the CFBAI issued a statement responding to the critique, defending the industry’s progress, and indicating that major candy companies have stopped advertising to children and that cereals advertised to children now have less sugar per serving and more whole grain content.
  • In the months and years ahead, the food industry is likely to remain under pressure to continue moving child-targeted food ads into healthier territory.  Particularly considering the potential regulatory developments on the horizon — including FDA’s proposal to revise the nutrition facts panel to include the declaration of “added sugars” — it will be interesting to see the results of future progress reports in this domain.