The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has issued a report card that rates 128 companies for their policies on marketing food to children. According to CSPI, most of the food makers, restaurants and entertainment companies failed “either for having weak policies or for failing to have any policies whatsoever.”
Based on research conducted in summer 2009, the report found that industry spends some $2 billion on youth marketing annually.
Grades in the “Report Card on Food-Marketing Policies” ranged from a B+ for Mars, Inc., for its policy to exclude marketing to children ages 12 and younger, to an F for Denny’s “for marketing to children through its children’s menu, which includes many nutritionally poor items; games on its Web site; and a kid’s birthday club.” In all, seven of the companies earned a D, and 95 received an F.
“Despite the industry’s self-regulatory system, the vast majority of food and entertainment companies have no protections in place for children,” said CSPI’s nutrition policy director in a March 9, 2010, press release. “If companies were marketing bananas and broccoli, we wouldn’t be concerned. But instead, most of the marketing is for sugary cereals, fast food, snack foods, and candy. And this junk food is a major contributor to childhood obesity.”