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Regulatory Watch: Junk-food kid junkies?

Another study warning that children see too many junk food ads may provide fodder for health advocates who support increased regulations on how food is marketed to kids. The study, by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that children 8 to 12 years of age see an average of 21 food ads a day, or 7,600 a year.

Mary Sophos, senior vice president and chief government affairs officer of the Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Association, suggests the study may already be out of date. “Given that the report was completed in 2005, it is only a snapshot that does not fully capture all of the industry efforts in this area since that time,” she said.

Included in those efforts, Sophos says, is the introduction of over 10,000 new and reformulated products with more whole grains and fiber, reduced calories, reduced saturated fat, zero trans fat, lower sodium and sugar. Companies have also tried to discourage over-indulging by providing 100-calorie package and similar forms of portion controlled offerings, while investing millions of dollars in initiatives that educate consumers on the importance of a healthy diet and increased physical activity.

“More recently, 11 of the leading food and beverage companies accounting for over two-thirds of all TV advertising to children under 12 have created a new Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative under which they have committed to devote fifty percent of their advertisements to healthier foods or to messages that promote fitness and nutrition,” Sophos said.

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