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U.S.: Stop marketing unhealthy food to children

Has food advertising to kids gotten so bad that the government should step in and fix it? The Obama administration wants food marketers to stop advertising sugary, fatty and high-sodium products to children. This week a government working group led by the FTC released a set of voluntary guidelines designed to curb marketing of some kinds of food in venues where kids are watching.

The goal is to reduce childhood obesity. But food marketers responded by calling the new rules “overly restrictive.” The guidelines are voluntary at this point, but the message to advertisers is that they should take heed or face tighter regulation.

Food marketers—just like the alcohol and cigarette industries before them—have earned a bad reputation for using cartoon characters to market unhealthy products to kids. The unfortunate—and totally predictable—outcome appears to be more government interference in marketing.

Read a related story at PRWeek.



  1. David says:

    Curious: How much government interference in advertising do you think is appropriate?

  2. Daryl Lang says:

    Great question David. I’m generally a free speech absolutist, and that includes commercial speech. For obvious selfish reasons, I also want as few regulations as possible over the field in which I make my living.

    The flip side is I think brands should act responsibly, and the marketplace should reward responsible companies. Obviously that doesn’t always happen (see: children’s cereals), but it’s a better ideal to uphold than a world where the government censors advertising.

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