In 2006, a group of 17 food manufacturers formed the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) and released preliminary guidelines for greater self-regulation of food advertising to children. Once again in response to calls from consumers, the CFBAI has debuted a new set of voluntary guidelines to be enacted by 2014, making consistent recommendations that could lead to further changes in foods advertised to children. The new proposed standards don't give the companies a "pass" on improving. One-third of their products would be adjusted for fat, sugar and sodium content under the new guidelines, a step FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz called "a significant advance and exactly the type of initiative the commission had in mind."
What's frustrating is this isn't enough for some critics. Lisa M. Powell, the researcher who authored a study for the University of Illinois at Chicago, commented to Reuters that the bulk of children's advertising is still fast food, and that advertising "makes [a parent’s] job that much tougher."
No matter how glitzy and glamorous food ads can be, rarely do they drive consumers to rush to the grocery store and purchase those marketed products. Moreover, children are not the primary purchasers of food for households. They're not behind the steering wheel, pulling up to the fast-food drive thru window or running into the convenient store for salty or sweet treats. It is parents who decide what to feed their children.
Parenting is tough indeed, but part of the job description is making choices that run contrary to what children may want at any given moment. It's rarely a success story when big government tries to parent - and this issue is no different.
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