GMA: Kids Viewing Fewer Food and Beverage Ads

In a presentation last week before a Federal Trade Commission forum, Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) SVP and chief government affairs officer Mary Sophos revealed new data indicating that children today are seeing fewer food, beverage and restaurant advertisements on television, with the mix having shifted to more ads promoting nutritious items.

“GMA and its members have a longstanding commitment to help arrest and reverse obesity trends around the world,” noted Sophos. “We are continuing to provide a wider range of nutritious product choices and marketing these choices in responsible ways that promote healthy lifestyles.”

As a result of food and beverage marketers having reduced the number and shifted the mix of products aimed at children (2 to 11 years of age) and teens (12 to 17 years of age), a study by Georgetown Economic Services found that kids are viewing fewer food, beverage and restaurant ads.

Study findings included:
—Youngsters viewed 31 percent fewer food, beverage and restaurant ads on children’s programming from 2004 to 2008.
—Children are encountering fewer food, beverage and restaurant ads on TV at all times
—The number of such ads the average 2- to 11-year-old viewed on all TV programming has decreased 15 percent from 2004 to 2008
—Since 1994, there has been a 27 percent decline in food, beverage and restaurant ads seen on all TV by the average child
—Over one-half of that decrease came in the last four years
—Since 1994, teens saw 8 percent fewer food, beverage ads and restaurant ads, and 28 percent fewer food and beverage ads
—Children are viewing more ads for fruits and vegetables on all TV, as well as kids’ TV.
—Kids are seeing fewer ads for soft drinks, cookies, snack bars, gum and mints, frozen pizza, breads, and pancakes and waffles

“Over the last several years, our industry has voluntarily changed its advertising and marketing practices; introduced or reformulated well over 10,000 healthier products (with lower calories, reduced or eliminated trans and saturated fat, reduced sugar and sodium, more vitamins, minerals and whole grains, smaller sizes and portion controlled packaging); and invested in programs that promote increased physical activity and nutrition education as the keys to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” said Sophos.

One such program was the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a national multi-year effort launched this past October by 40 retailers, nongovernmental organizations, and food and beverage manufacturers to help reduce obesity — particularly childhood obesity — by 2015. The foundation is promoting ways to help people reach a healthy weight through energy balance. It focuses on three critical areas: the marketplace, the workplace and schools.

Washington-based GMA’s board of directors consists of CEOs from the association’s member companies. The $2.1 trillion food, beverage and CPG industry employs 14 million workers, and contributes over $1 trillion in added value to the nation’s economy.
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