Blog Post for: Megan Weinberg, MA
10/26/2009 | Megan Weinberg, MA
Drowning in a Sea of Food Marketing
Today, the Rudd Center released a report to the public entitled “Cereal FACTS: Evaluating the nutrition quality and marketing of children's cereals.” The report is the culmination of a year’s worth of research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), and its release coincides with the launch of our new website, www.CerealFacts.org.
The Rudd Center received a grant from RWJF in November of 2008 to study food marketing to children, as part of a larger goal to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. Exposure to food marketing is strongly linked to this epidemic, as noted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and in the 2006 Institute of Medicine report. The objective of the F.A.C.T.S (Food Advertising to Children and Teens Score) project was to document the vast amount of marketing that is targeted to children, with the hope of improving the quality of food marketed to our children, and the overall food marketing landscape. We chose cereal first, because children are exposed to more advertising for it than any other packaged food category.
The actual findings of the FACTS project not only confirmed some suspicions about what was going on, but were also astounding. Marketers are heavily advertising their worst products to children. They are sneaky about it, often reaching our children when we’re not looking, undermining our authority by luring children with cartoons, games and toys to products we would otherwise avoid, and targeting children as young as 2 years old.