Blame TV” where he stated, “Banning junk food ads on kids’ programming is impractical, ineffective and illegal” (Muris, 2004).
As part of being an informed consumer, public health experts are calling for the full disclosure of ingredients. Commercially purchased food products currently have nutritional labels, which contain ingredients used in the food product, as well as nutritional information on calories, fat, and other nutritional parameters. As product packaging has increased, many nutritional labels still present the nutritional parameters for a “serving” rather than for the contents of the package. The FDA is currently investigating the need to require the provision of “whole package data” in addition to nutritional information per serving (Day, 2003; Matthews et al., 2003; Stein, 2003). Food purchased in restaurants and fast food establishments do not contain nutritional information on the menus or with the meals, although many fast food establishments have nutritional information posted or available on request.
Warning labels have been required on cigarette packages since the late 1960s; however, U.S. warning labels have not kept pace with international standards and generally are not noticed by smokers. Starting with Canada and now required by a number of other countries, graphic and vivid warning labels are required on all tobacco products. Similar labels are required by member states who are signatory to the FCTC (WHO, 2003). Graphic and vivid warning labels, similar to those used in Canada, have been shown to attract the attention of smokers, contribute to their interest in quitting smoking, and increase quit attempts (Hammond et al., 2003). They have even been associated with a reduction in cigarette smoking (Hammond et al., 2004). Currently, there are no warnings labels for food products, other than for alcoholic products, and in some instances, for certain food products that may contain a high risk of infectious disease (e.g., uncooked shellfish). The 2004 report of the APA on the effect of advertising on children concluded that any warnings, disclosures, or disclaimers about products advertised to children should be communicated in clear language comprehensible to the intended audience (APA, 2004).
Children’s and adolescents’ ease of access and ready opportunity to purchase foods with high sugar, fat, and sodium content likely contribute to the increase in the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity. Although empirical evidence on the precise contribution of easy availability and access to food products is not strong, some restrictions on access for