Stop trying to force-feed our children!

It’s no wonder the American Advertising Federation (AAF) was quick to refute the findings of a December 2005 Institute of Medicine (IOM) study that found food marketing to be detrimental to our nation’s youth. Exactly how such marketing influences children and youth was the focus of the IOM report Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity ?, which was the most comprehensive review to date of the scientific evidence on the influence of food marketing in diets and diet. -related to the health of children and young people.

Among other results, the report found that “current food and beverage marketing practices put children’s long-term health at risk. If American children and youth want to develop eating habits that help them avoid early onset of disease diet-related chronic diseases, they should reduce their intake of high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks, fast foods, and sweetened beverages, which make up a high proportion of the products marketed to them. “

Considering the negative light this IOM study sheds on the multi-billion dollar food marketing industry, AAF President and CEO Wally Snyder immediately questioned these findings, stating: “The industry of advertising is well aware of the dangers of childhood obesity and has been committed to finding solutions to this problem for some time … food manufacturers are now promoting healthier products and active lifestyles for children. “

So who are we to believe: a respected medical research organization entering studies with a presumptively objective position, or an industry association with a vested interest in the results of relevant studies? ( set out to answer this burning question, having recently released the results of a survey revealing how moms feel about marketing baby food, the healthier new food choices they make. they offer fast food restaurants and childhood obesity in general. Conducted with more than 2,000 mothers, the survey found that the majority (67%) of moms say that “although ads have some influence on their children, ultimately, they make purchasing decisions for the family.”

Key findings from the survey include:

o 86% of moms feel that teaching their children good eating habits is one of the main lessons they can teach

o 95% of moms believe there is an obesity epidemic

o 54% of mothers want companies to help them teach their children good eating habits

o 88% do not want companies to market unhealthy food for their children.

o 58% of moms say they will feed their family what they want, regardless of marketing messages.

o 40% of moms get nutritional information from product packaging and labels

“Marketers must recognize that while they are targeting children, it is moms who control the household pocket,” says Maria Bailey, founder of and author of “Marketing to Moms: Getting Your Share of the Trillion Dollar Market “and” Trillion Dollar Moms: Marketing for a New Generation of Moms. ” “It is time to shift the billions spent marketing food to children and focus on the gatekeeper.”

Additional findings from the survey include:

o 88% of mothers want restaurants to offer healthy options for their family

o 62% of moms admit that they don’t always have time to feed their families healthy foods

o 77% of mothers are more likely to choose a restaurant that offers healthy foods on the menu.

o 67% of moms say adding more fruits and vegetables to their family’s diet is extremely important

o Moms consider popcorn and nuts to be the healthiest snacks for their children, in addition to fruits and vegetables.

o 81% of moms will spend more on healthy food options

While this debate and others related to childhood obesity are sure to ensue, the upside is that we are all TALKING on this all-important topic. This awareness and dialogue will undoubtedly influence positive change.

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