US: Suggested voluntary guidelines for Food Marketing to Children

An interagency working group has called for comment on proposed voluntary standards for foods marketed to children in the US.

According to the Centre for Science in the Public Interest the current self-regulations have loopholes including weak or non- existent standards for sodium and sugar. The proposed standards are based on two principles to encourage children, through advertising and marketing, to choose foods that:
• Make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet
• Minimize consumption of foods with significant amounts of nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight, specifically sodium, saturated fat, trans fat and added sugar.

The standards also include proposed definitions of advertising, promotion and other marketing activities targeting children aged 2-11 years and adolescents aged 12-17 years.

The working group has explained that this is not a proposed government regulation but is designed to encourage stronger and more meaningful self-regulation by the food industry and to support parent’s efforts to get their kids to eat healthier foods.

Encouraging within the proposed regulations and some of the things that stand them apart from present self-regulation in Australia:
• It covers all forms of advertising

• It extends to adolescents

• There is one set of nutrition criteria

Some commentators have raised doubts about the effectiveness of voluntary regulations. See Melanie Warner’s commentary here.