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Posts Tagged ‘child nutrition’

PHAI Releases Major Report on Digital Food Marketing to Youth: Urges State Attorneys General to Act

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

December 19, 2013

The Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) at Northeastern University School of Law, along with our partners at the Center for Digital Democracy and Berkeley Media Studies Group, today releases State Law Approaches to Address Digital Food Marketing to Youth.  It is a first-of-its kind resource that provides an evidence base and action steps grounded in state law.  State attorneys general and other stakeholders in children’s health and privacy can use it to put a stop to troubling digital marketing practices that deceive youth and their parents.

In addition to clear explanations of how digital marketing works and why it poses privacy and health risks to youth, key legal issues for state regulators are explored.  These issues include personal jurisdiction over out-of-state food and beverage marketing and media companies; the interplay of federal and state laws regulating mobile marketing; and the application of state promotions laws to child consumers.

Key findings include:

Senior Staff Attorney, Cara Wilking, who was lead author of the report, noted that, “state attorneys general are in a unique position to leverage state law approaches to stop unfair, deceptive, or otherwise illegal digital marketing of unhealthy foods to our youngest and most vulnerable consumers.”

PHAI’s Executive Director, Mark Gottlieb, added, “there is a general failure to understand the disturbing marketing practices that are becoming commonplace in the digital marketing world. This report goes a long way toward closing the knowledge gap between those using powerful technology to sell junk to kids and those who have the responsibility to protect them.”

State Law Approaches to Address Digital Food Marketing to Youth Report

Support for State Law Approaches to Address Digital Food Marketing to Youth was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations Healthy Eating Research Program (#69293).

 

 



PHAI’s Wilking interviewed in Huff Post for Michele Simon’s “Ask a Food Lawyer” feature

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

WilkingPhoto0913

Cara Wilking

Michele Simon is a public health lawyer specializing in industry marketing and lobbying tactics. She is the author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back, and president of Eat Drink Politics, an industry watchdog consulting business.

Ms. Simon asks PHAI’s senior staff attorney, Cara Wilking, about deceptive food marketing to kids, concerns about food industry self-regulation of marketing practices, technical assistance we provide, and what PHAI and lawyers like Cara can contribute to the good food movement.

Access the interview here.

 

 



McDonald’s Repeatedly Violates CARU Premium Guideline

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

In response to a recent study finding that nationally televised fast food television advertisements to children by McDonald’s and Burger King from 2009-2010 focused primarily on toys, movie tie-ins and branding, CARU Director Wayne Keeley stated that “[b]oth companies have always respected CARU’s recommendations by discontinuing the challenged ads, and pledged to take into account CARU’s recommendations in their future advertising,” and went on to note that there haven’t been any recent cases involving either of the two companies.

A look at CARU case reports tells a different story. Since 2005, McDonald’s Corporation has been cited by CARU six times for violations of its premium guideline. Just one of these cases, from Sept 2012, was decided in McDonald’s favor. The most recent CARU case against the company in December 2012 found the premium guideline had been violated. Each time McDonald’s pledged to take CARU guidelines into consideration in future advertisements. Burger King also was found to have violated CARU’s premium guideline in 2011.

CARU

A list of CARU case reports. Click on the image above to view a larger version.



New study finds McDonald’s and Burger King responsible for 99% of fast-food television ads for kids, suggests industry’s efforts to self-regulate its marketing practices are ineffective

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Fast-food companies emphasize toy giveaways and movie tie-ins rather than food products when marketing to kids on television, which suggests that industry is not abiding by its self-regulatory pledges for child-directed marketing, according to a study co-authored by the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law. The study, “How Television Fast Food Marketing Aimed at Children Compares with Adult Advertisements,” is published in PLOS ONE and found that among ads for children’s meals, toy giveaways appeared in 69 percent of ads and movie tie-ins were used in 55 percent of ads.

“Fast-food companies use free toys and popular movies to appeal to kids and their ads are much more focused on promotions, brands, and logos—not on the food,” said James Sargent, Professor of Pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the lead author of the study. “These are techniques that the companies’ own self-regulatory body calls potentially misleading and it’s a clear sign that they’re not living up to their pledges about marketing to kids.”

Sargent and his colleagues examined all nationally televised ads for children’s meals by leading fast-food restaurants for one year, from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010. They compared ads for kids with ads for adults from the same companies to assess whether self-regulatory pledges for food marketing to children had been implemented.

 Key findings include:

Leaders of the food and beverage industry have publicly recognized the need to reform marketing practices targeting children. In 2006, the Council of Better Business Bureaus launched the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), a voluntary pledge by major U.S. food manufacturers to advertise only healthier products to young children. McDonald’s and Burger King participate in the CFBAI. Both companies also have pledged to abide by marketing guidelines set by the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, which include a provision stating that food—not toys or other promotions—should be the primary focus of ads directed at kids.

“This study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that there’s a big gap between what industry has promised and what they’re actually doing when it comes to marketing to kids,” said Cara Wilking, J.D. of the Public Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law. “There comes a point when intervention by a regulatory body like the Federal Trade Commission or state Attorneys General is needed to address self-regulatory failures. These findings suggest we’ve reached it with respect to fast food marketing to kids.”

A recent report by the Federal Trade Commission found that among all U.S. food and beverage companies, fast-food companies spent the most on marketing directed at youths ages 2 to 17—more than $714 million in 2009. The report also found that fast-food companies have dramatically increased their spending on television ads and new media targeting kids ages 2 to 11. Further analysis of that report shows while some fast-food restaurants slightly improved the nutritional quality of kids’ meals, the number of child-directed television ads for other higher-calorie meals and menu items more than doubled from 2006 to 2009.

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PHAI Publishes Legal Issue Brief on Digital Viral Food Marketing to Kids

Friday, March 8th, 2013

viral_digital_food_marketing_brief_graphic

Food companies used viral digital marketing tactics, such as “tell-a-friend” web campaigns, to induce children to share e-mail addresses of their friends and spread brand advertising of unhealthy foods among their peers.  Even very young children are targeted by these campaigns, which may be considered unfair and deceptive and in violation of state consumer protection laws.

PHAI has prepared a legal issue brief on this topic for state attorneys general as well as stakeholders in children’s health and privacy.  The brief explains the tactics that are used and suggests ways that they can be addressed, particularly under state law.

This work was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research Program (#69293).



Pepsi’s “Live for Now” campaign is the Joe Camel of soda marketing to youth

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

[Adapted from Richard A. Daynard’s presentation to the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools’ Agriculture and Food Law section, January 5, 2013.]

Soda consumption is a major contributor to adolescent obesity.1 Fortunately, soda consumption has been declining recently,2 presumably as a result of adverse media attention and policy initiatives like the ban on most sugar-sweetened beverages in schools.

live for now2

PepsiCo has decided to do something about that, and has designed its “Live for Now” campaign in an effort to reverse the decline in teenage soda  consumption. The campaign takes advantage of known adolescent vulnerabilities which result from the facts that the inhibitory structures of their brains are not fully developed, hormonal changes further reduce inhibitions while lowering self-esteem, and their psychosocial development focuses on identity formation and social acceptance.3  As a result they tend to be impulsive, thrill-seeking, and “now”-oriented. While they may rationally balance perceived risks and benefits, doing so does not necessarily inure to their best long-term interests.

Pepsi’s Live for Now campaign, like the infamous Joe Camel campaign used by R.J. Reynolds, is designed to prey upon these adolescent vulnerabilities in an effort to reverse declining consumption trends as well as to market a particular product.

Unlike cigarette advertisers, Pepsi is free to take its campaign to the airwaves.  It will do so in a big way when it will sponsor the Superbowl Halftime Show featuring Beyoncé, who recently entered into a $50 million endorsement deal with PepsiCo.

The Federal Trade Commission could bring an enforcement action under its unfairness jurisdiction, and state attorneys general and private attorneys could seek injunctive relief under state consumer protection laws.

But little is likely to happen unless public outrage is focused on this campaign, and unless regulators and judges learn more about the biological and developmental underpinnings of faulty adolescent decision-making.

 

References:

1.                Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL. Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. Lancet 2001; 357: 505–508.

2.                Strom, S. (2012). “Soda Makers Scramble to Fill Void as Sales Drop.”  The New York Times, May 15, 2012.

3.                Pechman, Cornelia, Linda Levine, Sandra Loughlin, and Frances Leslie (2005), “Impulsive and Self-Conscious:  Adolescents’ Vulnerability to Advertising and Promotion,” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 24 (Fall), 202-221.             

Research assistance by Brendan Burke and Cara Wilking
Support for this research was provided, in part, by the National Cancer Institute (2R01CA087571).



Nestlé’s nutritional advice recommends avoiding Kraft Lunchables, but Nestlé puts its candy in Lunchables anyway

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

This week, as millions of American children return to classrooms and lunchrooms, moms and dads are trying to sort out which pre-made food products are conducive to learning and a healthy diet and which are flashy, sophisticated packages of junk food.

Nestlé, which deems itself “the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company” has teamed up with Kraft Foods to sell three of its candy brands (Nestlé, Crunch, Nerds, and Kit Kat) in Kraft’s Lunchables. Nestle candy is included in “Lunchables with Juice” varieties containing “Light Bologna and American Cracker Stacker,” “Pizza with Pepperoni made with Pork, Chicken and Beef,” and “Nachos, Cheese Dip and Salsa.” A picture of  Nestlé candy is featured prominently on Lunchables product packaging:

Lunchables with Nestle Crunch Bar

 

The inclusion of Nestlé candy in these products is perplexing because Nestlé maintains a health and nutrition-focused website for parents called NestleFamily.com where it proffers tips for packing healthy school lunches by Dr. Christine Wood.  A look at four of Nestlé’s healthy lunch tips reveals that Kraft Lunchables products with Nestlé candy fall short.

The first tip: “Pack 100% juice boxes.”

Tip two: “Try to limit the frequency of using processed luncheon meats because of the nitrates in them. (Nitrates are preservatives found in many cooked and cured meats and should be given sparingly to young children.)”

Tip three: “Your kids will be more interested in healthy eating if they get involved in the preparation.”

Tip four: Use fresh fruits and vegetables.

NestleFamily.com says “Packing a healthy lunch for your kids can be a challenge!” It sure can. Especially when food manufacturers talk healthy foods and walk junk.



PHAI Releases New Resources to Use Law to Fight Junk Food Marketing to Kids

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Food and beverage marketing targeting children is a major focus of the food and beverage industry because, as the Institute of Medicine’s report on the subject bluntly declared, “marketing works.”

Deceptive and unfair marketing to promote high-calorie low-nutrient foods and beverages affect parent-consumer food purchasing decisions and induce demand among children for products that contribute to obesity and overweight. Such marketing campaigns can run afoul of an array of legal authorities that provide consumer protection from such practices.

PHAI conducted extensive 50-state research examining the provisions of state consumer protection laws of the United States that prohibit unfair, deceptive or unconscionable sales and marketing campaigns. Depending on the state, these consumer protection laws may be used by stakeholders in child health, including parents, as well as state attorneys general to stop unfair or deceptive marketing and advertising of unhealthy food and beverage products linked to overweight and obesity in children and adolescents.

The research focuses on the legal limits of: (1) direct marketing to children and teens in an effort to get them to use their own spending money to purchase food products for themselves; and (2) “pester power” marketing that targets children in an effort to get them to persuade their parents into buying products for them. To make it easy to find and compare state consumer protection laws, we have created an  interactive map linking to consumer protection law profiles of every state and the District of Columbia.

Key findings of our state consumer protection research also are summarized in a report and a legal issue brief:

A clear understanding of consumer protection rights and the sources of their legal authority will provide guidance for policymakers and advocates for children’s health who seek to curb these practices without the need for new legislation and regulatory measures.

Consumer Protection Map

Click to vist our interactve consumer protection map

This research was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research Program (#66968).



Coca-Cola Unscathed by Happy Meal Changes?

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

1.3 ounces of french fries are out. Caramel dipping sauce is out. A few apple slices are in. Sugary drinks, however, appear to be fully in the mix if not more so now. The 12 oz. “child’s size” Happy Meal soft drink, ranging from 110-120 calories for the non-diet carbonated options, remains the same. The new chocolate milk option has 170 calories and 25 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, the container of caramel dipping sauce that will no longer be offered has 70 calories and 9 grams of sugar. As the fountain syrup supplier for McDonald’s, The Coca-Cola Company must be rather pleased that McDonald’s made no overt change to its default drink option for its “most popular” Happy Meal combinations–soda. Chocolate milk may compete with soda, but  for parents concerned about calories McDonald’s has managed to position its Coca-Cola brand Happy Meal soda offerings as lower calorie alternatives to the flavored milk. Makes one wonder whether The Coca-Cola Company is whistling “badda ba, ba ba, I’m lovin’ it” in response to McDonald’s Happy Meal menu changes.



McDonald’s Happy Meals with Soda & Fries Still the “Most Popular” Meal Combinations

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

 

by Cara Wilking, J.D.

The National Restaurant Association announced last week  that a number of chain restaurants will be offering healthier children’s meal menu options. McDonald’s has opted not to participate in the initiative.  Likely it will point to the fact that it already offers apple slices and milk and that it only advertises the healthier versions of its Happy Meals. These steps, however, do not appear to have translated into making its healthier Happy Meal combinations its most popular Happy Meal combinations.

In a letter dated June 7, 2011, McDonald’s touted its range of children’s menu options and included fact sheets providing nutritional information for its children’s meals. The fact sheets feature six Happy Meal combinations and state that the meal combinations pictured “represent two advertised meals, three most popular meals and Cheeseburger, Apple Dippers and low-fat milk meal.” According to McDonald’s  Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative advertising pledge its “advertised meals” are the 4-piece Chicken McNuggets Happy Meal with apple dippers, low fat caramel dip and a jug of 1% low fat white milk and the Hamburger Happy Meal with apple dippers, low fat caramel dip and a jug of 1% low fat white milk. By process of elimination, the three “most popular” meal combinations emerge as:

The three most popular combinations include french fries and soda despite the fact that McDonald’s only advertises combinations with apple slices and milk.  This is most likely because these less healthy options remain the default when filling Happy Meal orders. If McDonald’s is serious about child health it should take real measures to ensure that its healthiest Happy Meal options become its most popular options.

*McDonald’s was contacted last week to confirm this interpretation of its fact sheets and has yet to do so.




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