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June 1st, 2011

Selling Junk Food to Kids

By Sarah Alexander

Today one in three American children are overweight or obese. It doesn’t help that kids are bombarded with advertising on TV, the Internet, social media and through “advergames,” which are ads dressed up as games and that unfortunately, much of the food that’s marketed to children is terrible for their health: sugary cereals, soda and drinks loaded with sugar and corn syrup, fast food, and snacks.

Corporations spend close to $1.6 billion marketing food to children each year, and now kids are seeing advertising everywhere they look. Online marketing to kids now includes fun games and e-card designs made with images of candy and sugary cereals. According to Cereal Facts, a report from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, one site operated by General Mills has over 767,000 young people spending more than an hour each month playing games that are branded for cereals like Lucky Charms® and Trix®. There are company-sponsored pages on Facebook for Froot Loops®, Frosted Flakes®, Lucky Charms and other products with more than 10,000 fans each.

What’s a kid or a parent to do?

The Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children is actually looking at creating standards that would limit marketing junk food to kids. Marketing junk food to kids has gone on for too long, and obesity rates in the United States should be enough to prompt immediate government action.

Will you submit a comment to help end corporate marketing of junk food to kids? Can you take action to stop the junk food advertising to kids?

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