In a letter sent to Nickelodeon and its parent company Viacom, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have called on the children’s entertainment network to stop showing advertisements for purportedly unhealthy foods and beverages that are “powerfully promoting childhood obesity.” Citing another company’s announcement last year that it would no longer accept advertisements for unhealthy foods on television, radio and Websites directed at children, the senators asked Nickelodeon to “promptly take similar action to implement strong nutrition standards for all of its marketing to children.”

“As a leading multi-media entertainment destination for children and adolescents, Nickelodeon has a special opportunity—and responsibility—to help address our nation’s childhood obesity epidemic,” the senators stated. “We ask that you implement a clear policy to guide the marketing of food to children on Nickelodeon’s various media platforms, including the advertisements on your channels, Internet sites, and mobile platforms.”

They also referenced a Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity study suggesting that Nickelodeon aired one-quarter of the food advertisements viewed by children younger than age 12, as well as a Center for Science in the Public Interest report that 69 percent of foods advertised on Nickelodeon were of poor nutritional quality, including fast foods, sugary cereals and sweet snacks.

“We applaud the initiatives that Nickelodeon has taken to promote healthy lifestyles for children, including through health and wellness messaging, but remain concerned that Nickelodeon continues to run advertisements for food and beverage products of poor nutritional quality,” said the senators. See Sen. Richard Blumenthal News Release, June 10, 2013.