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New Research Shows Dramatic Changes in Food and Beverage Ads Viewed by Children

GMA Press Contact

Roger Lowe / Brian Kennedy

office: 202-295-3954 / 202-639-5994

(Washington, D.C.)  The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) today announced the results of new research conducted by Georgetown Economic Services that shows the average number of food and beverage advertisements that children 2 to 11 viewed on children’s programming fell by 50 percent between 2004 and 2010.

“In recent years, food and beverage companies have adopted strict nutrition standards that have fundamentally changed the advertising landscape,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association. “Since 2005, there has been a significant decrease in overall food and beverage advertising on children’s programs, coupled with a dramatic increase in ads featuring healthier product choices and healthy lifestyle messages.  These changes would not have taken place without the leadership and commitment demonstrated by America’s food and beverage companies.”

The research was conducted by Georgetown Economic Services and sponsored by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Association of National Advertisers.

In addition, GES found a dramatic change in the composition of food and beverage advertisements viewed on children’s programming.

Between 2004 and 2010:

• Advertisements for cookies fell by 99%
• Advertisements for soft drinks fell by 96% and advertisements for fruit and vegetables juices increased by 199%
• Advertisements for gum and mints fell by nearly 100% and advertisements for candy fell by 68%
• Advertisements for snack bars fell by nearly 100% and advertisements for all snacks fell by 71%
• Advertisements for frozen and refrigerated pizza fell by 95% and advertisements for breads, pastries, waffles and pancakes fell by nearly 100%

Many of the changes in advertising on children's programming can be attributed to the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), a self-regulatory program that is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus and that was created in response to FTC and IOM reports in 2005.

Under the CFBAI, 17 food and beverage companies apply science-based nutrition standards to marketing viewed by children, including television advertising and digital media. CFBAI was launched in 2006.

“The advertising community has actively responded to the obesity challenge in the United States and this study once again confirms that food and beverage advertising directed to children under 12 has trended significantly downwards,” said Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). “In addition, food options that provide low-fat, low-sodium and low-calorie choices have dramatically increased.”

In recent years, food and beverage manufacturers have changed the recipes of more than 20,000 products to reduce calories, sodium, sugar and fat. In addition, food manufacturers and retailers recently announced a commitment to place nutrition information on the front of food packages.

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Based in Washington, D.C., the Grocery Manufacturers Association is the voice of more than 300 leading food, beverage and consumer product companies that sustain and enhance the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people in the United States and around the globe. 

Founded in 1908, GMA is an active, vocal advocate for its member companies and a trusted source of information about the industry and the products consumers rely on and enjoy every day.  The association and its member companies are committed to meeting the needs of consumers through product innovation, responsible business practices and effective public policy solutions developed through a genuine partnership with policymakers and other stakeholders. 

In keeping with its founding principles, GMA helps its members produce safe products through a strong and ongoing commitment to scientific research, testing and evaluation and to providing consumers with the products, tools and information they need to achieve a healthy diet and an active lifestyle.  The food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry in the United States generates sales of $2.1 trillion annually, employs 14 million workers and contributes $1 trillion in added value to the economy every year.