The Institute of Medicine looked at the exposure of children aged 2-11 to ads for unwise dietary choices, and found that it had actually decreased shortly after major advertisers pledged to cut back as part of the 2006 Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. But IOM still found things to complain about.
The study was taken during the years 2003, 2005 and 2007, allowing a before and after perspective on the Initiative.
The program had its best effect among 2-5 year olds, who had a 13.7% reduction in ads seen from 2003 to 2007. Among 6-11s, the reduction was a more modest 3.7%. The study found much work to be done, however, when it came to the 12-17 age group, which actually had an increase in exposure of 3.7%.
The study also found that the decrease came in the sweets and beverages categories, and was mitigated by an increase in fast food advertising.
IOM also turned up an ethnic gap, with African American children getting significantly more exposure than children as a whole.
RBR-TVBR observation: Clearly there is still work to be done on this count, but things at least seem to be moving in the right direction. It will be interesting to see if the trend holds, and the fast food category shows improvement, as further and more recent studies come out. Effective voluntary action by the regulated is always preferable to compulsory requirements by the regulators.