The Progressive


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For Immediate Release
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Most Food Ads on Nickelodeon Still for Junk Food

Self-Regulation Proving Insufficient to Protect Children, Says CSPI


Nearly 80 percent of food ads on the popular children's network
Nickelodeon are for foods of poor nutritional quality, according to an analysis conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
That represents a modest and not quite statistically significant drop
from 2005, when CSPI researchers found that about 90 percent of food
ads on Nick were for junk food. Between the 2005 and 2009 studies, the
food industry instituted a self-regulatory program through the Council
of Better Business Bureaus, the Children's Food and Beverage
Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).

CSPI also examined the practices of the food companies that
participate in that self-regulatory program. Of the 452 foods and
beverages that companies say are acceptable to market to children, CSPI
found that 267, or nearly 60 percent, do not meet CSPI's recommended
nutrition standards for food marketing to children, such as General
Mills' Cookie Crisp and Reese's Puffs cereals, Kellogg Apple Jacks and
Cocoa Krispies cereals, Kellogg Rice Krispies Treats, Campbell's
Goldfish crackers and SpaghettiOs, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and
many Unilever Popsicles.

"While industry self-regulation is providing some useful
benchmarks, it's clearly not shielding children from junk food
advertising, on Nick and elsewhere," said CSPI nutrition policy
director Margo G. Wootan. "It's a modest start, but not sufficient to
address children's poor eating habits and the sky-high rates of
childhood obesity."

Of the foods companies say are appropriate to market to
children, no puddings, cookies, or fruit-flavored snacks meet CSPI's
nutrition standards, but 73 percent of yogurts did. Other foods that
meet CSPI's standards include Nabisco Teddy Grahams, Kellogg Frosted
Mini-Wheats, Kellogg Eggo Waffles, and several Kid Cuisine frozen
dinners. Most beverages (64 percent), such as fruit drinks with little
fruit juice, sports drinks, and high-fat milk, didn't meet CSPI's
nutrition standards.

None of the 10 products PepsiCo says are appropriate to
market to children actually are according to CSPI's standards. Only
three of 47 Kraft-approved products, one of eight McDonald's-approved
meals, and 22 of 86 General Mills-approved products met CSPI's
standards. Burger King only identified one meal as appropriate to
market to children at the time of the study--a Kids Meal with Kraft
Macaroni & Cheese, apple fries with caramel sauce, and a Hershey's
1 percent milk, which also met CSPI's standards. Four companies that
belong to the CFBAI (Coca-Cola, Hershey's, Mars, and Cadbury Adams)
state that they do not advertise any products to children (according to
the CBBB definition).

Of the food ads on Nickelodeon, a fourth were from
companies that don't participate in the industry's self-regulatory
program. Almost none of those ads were for foods that met CSPI's
nutrition standards, and only 28 percent of the ads from companies in
the CBBB Initiative met them.

In 2006, the National Academies' Institute of Medicine
recommended that food and media companies shift the mix of foods
marketed to youth toward healthier foods within two years. Currently,
an Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children, including
representatives from the Federal Trade Commission, the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and
the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is developing nutrition standards
for foods marketed to children. Those are expected in July of 2010, and
CSPI is urging the Council of Better Business Bureaus to adopt them for
the CFBAI.

CSPI also has urged
Chuck E. Cheese's, IHOP restaurants, Topps Candy, Yum! Brands (which
owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut) and Perfetti van Melle (maker of Air
Heads candy) to join the CFBAI. Nickelodeon and other media companies should also have comprehensive policies covering all their food marketing aimed at children.

should be ashamed that it earns so much money from carrying commercials
that promote obesity, diabetes, and other health problems in young
children," Wootan said. "If media and food companies don't do a better
job exercising corporate responsibility when they market foods to
children, Congress and the FTC will need to step in to protect kids'

CSPI's nutrition standards
include reasonable limits on saturated and trans fats, sodium, and
added sugars and encourage the presence of key vitamins, fruits,
vegetables, and whole grains. CSPI says that ideally, companies would
market only the most healthful foods to children, but that its
guidelines strike a practical balance between that ideal and the
current food marketing climate.

Since 1971, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has been a strong advocate for nutrition and health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science.