February 24th, 2014
Brands continue to target fast food marketing at kids
By Liza Ramrayka
Each year, the world’s food and beverage companies spend billions on marketing and advertising their products to children and teenagers. The overwhelming majority of these products are high in calories, added sugar, saturated fat and sodium – fast food, fizzy drinks, sweets and chocolate to name just a few. Ask your child to recall a food advert and chances are that it won’t be one for apples or broccoli.
US fast food restaurants alone spent $4.6bn on advertising to children and teens in 2012. According to Fast Food Facts 2013, children under six saw almost three adverts for fast foods every day, while 12-17-year-olds saw almost five adverts a day.
Between 2010 and 2013, the number of kids’ meals at fast-food restaurants increased by 54%. But the percentage of items that qualified as healthy – less than 1% – remained stagnant. Report lead author Jennifer Harris, director of marketing at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, is concerned that many companies are shifting their focus to increase reach into markets not currently covered by the current system of voluntary self regulation.