KRT Wire | 07/14/2005 | Food, advertising industries tout new strategy on junk food

KRT Wire | 07/14/2005 | Food, advertising industries tout new strategy on junk food: "WASHINGTON - (KRT) - Faced with mounting criticism of food marketing directed at increasingly obese children, the food and advertising industry on Thursday fired back by touting its healthier new products and vowing a get-tough strategy on children's ads.
The industries' response reflects an effort to ward off government regulation of advertising aimed at children and a growing consumer demand for healthier products.
At a government-sponsored program entitled Marketing, Self Regulation and Childhood Obesity, the Nickelodeon children's television network announced that the SpongeBob SquarePants character would soon appear on the side of spinach packages. McDonald's touted its apple dippers. And General Mills promoted the health benefits of its whole-grain cereals for kids.
Meanwhile, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents many major food companies, said that on Friday it would unveil beefed-up guidelines for advertising aimed at children. The new guidelines would significantly increase the scope of the industry-funded Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU), which was established in 1974 to review children's advertising. They include a prohibition on product placement in children's shows, scrutiny of advertising on such new media as Internet Web sites and video games and a review of licensed characters used to tout food products.
Despite those efforts, critics noted that children are fatter than ever, with the rates of obesity among kids ages 6 to 11 tripling during the last three decades and doubling for children ages 2 to 5 and among adolescents 12 to 19 years old. They also argued that the industry has failed at regulating itself during the last three decades, as evidenced by the proliferation of junk food ads."