The Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children (Working Group), comprised of representatives from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), seeks public comment on a preliminary proposal for voluntary principles to guide industry self-regulatory efforts to improve the nutritional profile of foods marketed to children. The Working Group has drafted these principles pursuant to a directive from Congress, as set out in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act. As directed by Congress, the Working Group has developed this proposal based on the nutrition, health, and marketing expertise of the member agencies, with the goal of improving children’s diets and addressing the high rates of childhood obesity. Marketing can be an effective tool to encourage children to make better food choices, and voluntary adoption by industry of strong, uniform nutrition and marketing principles, like those proposed here, will advance the goal of promoting children’s health.
Public comment is sought to help inform the Working Group in shaping its recommendations for enhanced industry self-regulatory efforts as part of a report requested by Congress. Comments are not being requested as the basis for regulation. The recommendations include principles addressing the nutritional quality of foods that are most heavily marketed to children. They also include proposed definitions of advertising, promotion, and other marketing activities targeting children ages 2-11 years and adolescents ages 12-17 years to which the nutrition principles would apply. The Working Group seeks public comment on both the nutrition principles and the definitions of marketing targeted to children and adolescents. Comments must be received no later than June 13, 2011
The primary objective of the Working Group in developing recommendations for nutrition principles for foods marketed to children has been the promotion of children’s health through better diet, with particular – but not sole – emphasis on reducing the incidence of childhood obesity. The proposed recommendations are therefore designed to encourage children, through advertising and marketing, to choose foods that make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet (Principle A) and 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 sugars (Principle B).
The Working Group recommends that, as industry develops new products and reformulates existing products, it should strive to create foods that meet both of these two basic nutrition principles. It further recommends that industry focus these efforts on those categories of foods that are most heavily marketed directly to children, such as breakfast cereals, carbonated beverages, restaurant foods and snack foods. The proposed principles, if fully implemented by industry for these categories, should lead to significant improvements in the overall nutritional profile of foods marketed to children.
The Working Group recommends that industry work toward the goal that all foods within the categories most heavily advertised or otherwise marketed directly to children and adolescents would meet the nutrition principles by the year 2016. The Working Group acknowledges that this is an ambitious goal, but believes it is warranted by the urgent need to improve children’s diets and health and address the epidemic of childhood obesity.
The Working Group seeks comment on its two proposed nutrition principles, including the recommendation that industry focus its self-regulatory efforts on the categories of foods most heavily marketed to children. The Working Group is proposing two possible approaches for assessing whether a food product meets Principle A – making a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet. The Working Group is also proposing specific targets for saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars, and sodium content to meet Principle B – minimizing consumption of foods with significant amounts of these nutrients that could have a negative impact on health or weight. Finally, the Working Group is seeking comment on its proposed goal that all foods within the categories most heavily marketed to children meet these two nutrition principles by the year 2016.
You can review the full document here (PDF) and find the details on how to provide feedback.