WASHINGTON – The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) welcomed a new study to be published today in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, which will contribute to the steadily mounting evidence that undermines the supposed link between television food advertising and childhood obesity. Last Friday, a report issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Friday found similar results.
The Archives study found that “children do not currently see more food ads on TV than they did during the past 35 years.” Looking at a 27 year span, the FTC found that “children are not exposed to more food ads on television than they were in the past.” Childhood obesity scaremongers have claimed time and again that increased television marketing to children has caused them to eat more unhealthy food. From Superman to Shrek, food marketing has existed for decades. CCF points out that the new reports indicate that the number of advertisements seen by kids has actually dropped in the past few decades.
Despite being accused of luring children to fatty foods, advertisements for fast food restaurants make up only 3.3% of commercial breaks, the Archives study found. Furthermore, the study notes that “the dramatic increase in childhood obesity rates in the past several decades does not appear to be mirrored by similar changes in food advertising exposure.”
This echoes FTC’s conclusion that the average child aged 2 to 11 viewed about 10 percent fewer television advertisements in 2004 than in 1977. FTC researchers stated that their data “do not support the view that children are exposed to more television food advertising today.”
“It took scientists and government officials to tell us that a two minute commercial break doesn’t brainwash kids to get fat,” said J. Justin Wilson, senior research analyst at the Center for Consumer Freedom. “Food commercials have been around since Dick Tracy sold kids on Ovaltine. It’s only recently that we’ve seen such a dramatic increase in childhood obesity. Activists don’t realize that ads don’t actually make kids cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”
Wilson continued: “These studies suggest that the hype about TV commercials is diverting attention from the real cause of childhood obesity: physical inactivity.