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Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance
ation industries; public health organizations; and consumer advocacy groups. This national conference should also establish appropriate objectives and methods for evaluating the ongoing effectiveness of the new guidelines.
In addition, further information should be collected about the impact of advertising on children’s eating and physical activity behaviors and about how media literacy training may help children and parents make more informed choices.
Implementation of the guidelines will be the responsibility of the food and beverage industry and sedentary entertainment industry trade organizations, individual companies, advertising agencies, and the entertainment industry, with oversight from federal agencies. Appropriate advertising codes and monitoring mechanisms, including industry-sponsored and external review boards (e.g., CARU, National Advertising Review Board), should be implemented to enforce the guidelines. Moreover, industry should take actions to strengthen CARU guidelines and oversight in order to ensure compliance. Through these actions, it is expected that reasonable precautions will be put in place regarding the time, place, and manner of product placement and promotion (i.e., children’s morning, afternoon, and weekend television programming and in-school educational programming) to limit children’s exposure to products that are not consistent with the principle of energy balance and that do not promote healthful diets and regular physical activity.
Further, Congress should empower the FTC with the authority and resources to monitor compliance with the guidelines, scrutinize marketing practices of the relevant industries (including product promotion, placement, and content), and establish independent external review boards to investigate complaints and prohibit food and beverage and sedentary entertainment product advertisements that may be deceptive or have “particular appeal” to children that conflict with principles of healthful eating and physical activity. Potential guideline elements to consider might be:
Restrict or otherwise constrain the content of food and beverage and sedentary entertainment advertising on programs with a substantial children’s audience (i.e., children’s morning, afternoon, and weekend television programming and in-school educational programming such as Channel One).
Avoid implicit or explicit claims that high-energy-density and low-nutrient-density foods have nutritional value.
Avoid linking such products to admired celebrities or sports figures, or to cartoon characters. This would include cross-promotion of food and sedentary entertainment products with branded children’s programming or networks.