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An evaluation of government proposed restrictions on television advertising of food products to children

By Joshua P. Berning, Rui Huang and Adam Rabinowitz

Abstract

Several US agencies have collectively worked to establish voluntary principles to guide how firms market food to children and to establish a threshold for the nutritional quality of foods marketed to children. Based on the proposed standards, the authors evaluate television advertising for breakfast cereals, which is both heavily advertised and a common meal item for children. They find that the majority of cereals advertised from 2006-2008 do not meet the nutritional guidelines for sugar content. Cereals that do not meet the nutritional guidelines generate more overall advertising exposure than cereals that do. Further, children and adolescents are exposed to more advertising for products that do not meet the nutritional guidelines. Exposure to advertising is greatest for children 2-11, particularly for cereals that are high in sugar content. Based on prior history of cereal reformulations and the large share of products that fail to meet the guidelines for sugar indicates there might be potential for further reformulation of these products to meet the proposed principles.nutrition guidelines, television advertising, voluntary restrictions

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