The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has released their report card for companies that market food to kids. Out of 128 companies evaluated, nearly 75 percent of them are getting a failing grade.
CSPI is concerned about the fact that food marketers continue to aggressively target children with unhealthy foods, despite high obesity rates. That shouldn’t come as a surprise though, should it? Companies are built to make money, not think about what would help parents and their obese children. They are making their products cheaper (i.e. processed and unnatural), so they are cheap enough for average consumers to buy as much of it as possible.
Even though kids naturally gravitate more towards Lucky Charms than a bran cereal, there are sweet and healthier options for breakfast. But, back to the story at hand…
If you’re a parent and your kids are parked in front of the television watching their favorite Nickelodeon show, you can rest assured they will be seeing a commercial for some sort of rainbow-colored, sugar-filled breakfast food, not Fiber One. In 2008, the Federal Trade Commission found that companies spent $870 million to market food to children under 12. And, an additional $1 billion went to marketing to older kids.
“If companies were marketing bananas and broccoli, we wouldn’t be concerned. But instead, most of the marketing is for sugary cereals, fast food, snack foods, and candy. And this junk food marketing is a major contributor to childhood obesity,” says CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan.
You can find the entire report card at CSPI’s website. Besides the fact that the report is loaded with failing grades, there is one even more interesting shocker; one company stands above all the rest with a B+ — Mars, Inc. That’s right, the company that makes candy bars (Snickers) and other chocolate favorites (M&M’s) does the best job in not (overly) marketing their products to kids.