Food marketing to children is not improving rapidly enough, Lori Dorfman tells White House audience

printer friendlyprinter friendly

lori dorfmanMarketing of junk food and sugar-sweetened drinks to children is improving in "baby steps," Lori Dorfman, DrPH, director of PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group, told a White House gathering held by First Lady Michelle Obama and the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Far more needs to be done, and quickly, particularly because aggressive food marketing to children via mobile phones and other digital media is growing explosively, said Dorfman, a national authority on food marketing to kids who has written and spoken extensively on the subject.

"I told them I want to turbo charge movement around marketing to children because we need to move much faster. Researchers say that at the rate we're going, we won't have the right balance of ads on TV until 2033. We can't afford to lose a generation of kids who are forming their ideas about what to eat based on billions of dollars of marketing bombarding them every year," Dorfman said of the event, attended by representatives of food and media companies, advocacy and parents groups, government agencies and research organizations.

Inroads being made in marketing healthier food to kids

Dorfman pointed to some small signs of progress: About 90 percent of the ads Nickelodeon aired in 2005 were for junk food; last year, its junk food ads declined to about 70 percent of ads, Dorfman said. Also, members of a voluntary regulatory body, the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), have made pledges of their own choice to improve nutrients in the products they market to children, but by late 2014 all member companies will adhere to a consistent set of nutrition standards. Although a positive sign, this plan still doesn't cover all the junk food marketing children are exposed to, she said.

Perhaps the White House meeting itself is the biggest harbinger of movement, said Dorfman, who also co-chairs the Food Marketing Workgroup.

"The fact we were there in the White House is a key indicator that this is an issue everyone takes seriously now," said Dorfman.

Digital marketing "gets more eyeballs"

While food companies' spending to push their products on children decreased slightly from about $2 billion in 2006 to $1.8 billion in 2009, this slight decline partly fueled by the recession was offset by a 50 percent increase in digital marketing, which is much less expensive to produce than television ads and "gets more eyeballs for the buck," Dorfman told the gathering.

"A 30-second commercial is here and gone," she said. "If you're pushing a Froot Loop around the screen, you can be doing this for 10 minutes, 15 minutes and 30 minutes at a time and then sending it to a friend."

chuck e cheeseThe exposure to digital marketing games, contests and promotions is even more intense for children from multicultural and low-income communities they get a "double dose" of marketing through general campaigns for children and others that target African American and Latino children in particular. "They're more receptive and approving of ads than their white peers," Dorfman said. "This might be because if you're an African American kid, you don't see yourself in the media that much; when you do, you're really attentive to it."

For example, Chuck E. Cheese's has used African American children to encourage kids to download an app, visit the restaurant and have a photo taken showing the giant Chuck E. Cheese mouse with his arms around them. This kind of marketing appeals to kids and has a long "shelf" life in their homes.

Broad voluntary regulations needed

Dorfman called for the CFBAI to put regulations in place covering all forms of advertising, including product packaging, sponsorships, and marketing in schools as well as stronger nutrition standards for healthy foods.

"Yes, parents have responsibility for their children, but parents don't have responsibility for putting characters on cereal boxes at kids' eye level on supermarket shelves," she said. "Parents are not responsible for fruits snacks that are not fruit. Parents don't have the power to change that. But the companies do."

Carolyn Newbergh is a writer and editor in the Public Health Institute's communications department.


Amanda Fallin (1) Golden Gate Bridge (2) education (1) suicide nets (1) social media (2) FCC (1) prison system (1) San Francisco (3) prison phone calls (1) Happy Meals (1) media bites (1) Black Lives Matter (1) Berkeley (2) Pine Ridge reservation (1) food industry (4) inequities (1) chronic disease (2) public health (71) childhood lead poisoning (1) Chile (1) Citizens United (1) food deserts (1) gatorade bolt game (1) junk food (2) elephant triggers (1) media (7) Marion Nestle (1) Texas (1) diabetes (1) sexual health (1) obesity prevention (1) summer camps (1) community organizing (1) soda (12) public health policy (2) Newtown (1) vaccines (1) junk food marketing to kids (2) childhood trauma (3) Proposition 29 (1) Telluride (1) abortion (1) SB 1000 (1) child sexual abuse (5) paper tigers (1) social justice (2) Aurora (1) Bloomberg (3) community (1) choice (1) seat belt laws (1) social change (1) framing (14) sugar-sweetened beverages (2) food access (1) race (1) SB 402 (1) gun violence (1) beauty products (1) tobacco control (2) Proposition 47 (1) tobacco (5) health equity (10) childhood adversity (1) naacp (1) values (1) sexual violence (2) sports drinks (1) news strategy (1) Michelle Obama (1) cannes lions festival (1) food environment (1) HPV vaccine (1) healthy eating (1) suicide barrier (2) media analysis (6) news coverage (1) default frame (1) Twitter (1) Sam Kass (1) regulation (2) food swamps (1) community safety (1) prevention (1) El Monte (3) sanitation (1) world water day (1) ssb (1) nanny state (2) SSBs (1) digital marketing (3) sexual assault (1) health care (1) Nickelodeon (1) community health (1) california (1) Let's Move (1) personal responsibility (3) Big Food (2) emergency contraception (1) campaign finance (1) Jerry Sandusky (3) Colorado (1) social math (1) violence (2) Food Marketing Workgroup (1) institutional accountability (1) food marketing (5) cosmetics (1) democracy (1) cervical cancer (1) cancer prevention (1) marketing (1) sandusky (2) Merck (1) Wendy Davis (1) autism (1) ACEs (2) language (6) front groups (1) collaboration (1) Coca-Cola (3) auto safety (1) Bill Cosby (1) structural racism (1) alcohol (5) sugary drinks (10) Catholic church (1) public health data (1) suicide prevention (2) new year's resolutions (1) apha (3) authentic voices (1) women's health (2) corporate social responsibility (1) cap the tap (1) tobacco tax (1) obesity (10) racism (1) food (1) Big Tobacco (3) soda industry (4) measure N (2) childhood obestiy conference (1) media advocacy (23) news analysis (3) stigma (1) environmental health (1) Gardasil (1) McDonald's (1) political correctness (1) snap (1) Sandy Hook (2) youth (1) children's health (3) Rachel Grana (1) paula deen (1) george lakoff (1) government intrusion (1) built environment (2) junk food marketing (4) safety (1) food and beverage marketing (3) soda warning labels (1) privilege (1) equity (3) soda tax (11) industry appeals to choice (1) Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes (1) Johnson & Johnson (1) Richmond (5) water security (1) Whiteclay (4) liana winett (1) communication (2) reproductive justice (1) Measure O (1) messaging (3) Twitter for advocacy (1) weight of the nation (1) Dora the Explorer (1) SB-5 (1) diabetes prevention (1) Tea Party (1) breastfeeding (3) food justice (1) communication strategy (1) indoor smoking ban (1) tobacco industry (2) election 2016 (1) nonprofit communications (1) PepsiCo (1) online marketing (1) Oakland Unified School District (1) cancer research (1) soda taxes (2) Oglala Sioux (3) Joe Paterno (1) Donald Trump (2) beverage industry (2) water (1) personal responsibility rhetoric (1) adverse childhood experiences (3) sexism (2) violence prevention (8) American Beverage Association (1) genital warts (1) cigarette advertising (1) mental health (2) filibuster (1) journalism (1) Big Soda (2) advocacy (3) Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (1) target marketing (9) Connecticut shooting (1) gender (1) strategic communication (1) childhood obesity (1) news (2) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (2) product safety (1) physical activity (1) news monitoring (1) community violence (1) Penn State (3) white house (1) gun control (2)
  • Follow Us On Facebook
  • Follow Us On Twitter
  • Join Us On Youtube
  • BMSG RSS Feed

get e-alerts in your inbox: