Good news out of the Netherlands: “unhealthy food will no longer be able to feature popular children’s characters, according to voluntary measures proposed by the Dutch Food Industry Federation (FNLI).”
- “The FNLI doesn’t expect that future advertising restrictions will reduce obesity, as there are no proven effects from severe restrictions on advertising aimed at children that have already been introduced over the past decade,” the organization said on its website.”
- “But, FNLI understands the public debate on advertising aimed at children and wants to react positively. Obesity is a problem of great concern to the food industry…that can only be overcome by a broad range of measures increasing knowledge about nutrition, healthy diet and exercise.”
For what it’s worth, we don’t agree with the viewpoint that popular children’s characters should instead be used to advertise fruits and vegetables. For more on that perspective, be sure to read this post co-authored by Susan Linn, Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and public health lawyer Michele Simon.
- “The developmental vulnerabilities of children, along with the legal, ethical, and political pitfalls of encouraging the food industry to target kids, make marketing food to children harmful regardless of nutritional content.”
- “A primary goal for advocates should be for children to develop a healthy relationship to food. Foisting character-branded products on children undermines that effort. Marketing to children does more than sell products—it inculcates habits and behaviors. Marketing branded produce such as Kung-Fu Panda Edamame to children instills the unhealthy habit of choosing food based on marketing cues such as celebrity, rather than on a child’s own innate hunger, taste, or good nutrition.”
- “The food industry is happy to play along when advocates call for the marketing of “healthier” food to children. Corporate lobbyists have invented a voluntary self-regulation scheme to convince politicians and the public they’ve got it covered with nutrition standards that allegedly protect children.”
- “By begging and pleading with the food industry to improve how it markets to children, instead of working to end food marketing to children entirely, we are continuing to endorse a failed system in which industry gets to set the rules, break them whenever it pleases, and then take credit for doing the right thing.”