Posted April 29, 2011 1:51 pm by with 3 comments

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Unless Cap ‘N Crunch can start hawking carrot sticks, this popular advertising icon may have to sail off into the sunset in the near future. The FTC is proposing a new set of guidelines for food advertising aimed at children and there’s no tolerance for anything sugary, fatty or fun.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is quoted as saying,

“Children are strongly influenced by the foods they see advertised on television and elsewhere. Creating a food marketing environment that supports, rather than undermines, the efforts of parents to encourage healthy eating among children will have a significant impact on reducing the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic.  These new Principles will help food and beverage companies use their creativity and resources to strengthen parents’ efforts to encourage their children to make healthy choices.”

Hopping on my soap box for just a moment, I have to say that healthy eating is not a matter parents versus the advertisers. Look at Jaime Oliver’s movement to get healthier lunches in the schools. Are dieticians also unduly influenced by the Jolly Green Giant and the Keebler Elves?

Kids are smarter than people thing. Present a cookie and an apple to a kid and I’ll bet they can tell you which is the healthy choice. Kids may ask for a particular cereal because they like the character on the box, but it if doesn’t taste good, they won’t eat it. And that’s what’s funny here.

The FTC isn’t asking advertisers to stop using cartoon characters to promote food, they just want them to promote healthy food. They think that if you put Disney characters on whole grain bread, kids will eat it. I’m not so sure.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not against healthy eating and I appreciate the fact that the FTC is trying to protect our kids. They did it with cigarette ads, so it’s likely they’ll also win the battle against junk food ads. But does that mean they’ll win the battle against junk food? Does a lack of colorful advertising really mean a drop in sales? And exactly what is considered “aimed at kids?” Those Keebler Elves make fabulous cookies ,but I would say they’re aimed at the adult female consumer, not a ten-year-old. So can they keep on working their magic?

Right now, the guidelines are voluntary, but you can see where this is going. If your company markets food products to kids, you should go check out the new guidelines at

  • as for the Keebler Elves…quoting from the guidelines pdf:

    “when such marketing targets children who are 17 years old or
    younger or when such food represents a significant component of the diets of

    So as long as the case can be made that kids eat cookies (slam dunk) the Elves will have to up their game too.

  • Most of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s did okay, even with this kind of marketing. It does bug me a bit, but I think the evidence shows that there is something else missing. Most likely, it’s that kids play less and have less recess. Sure, kids need to eat better, but they also need to get outside and act like kids.

  • Kids love eating,but sometimes the food that they intake not contain enough nutrients for their age.The parents must be responsible for the nutrient of their that make sure that your kids eat foods with enough nutrients.