Will Kids' TV Go On A Commercial Diet?

By all estimation, it's another TV food fight. And just like in "Animal House," maybe the way to deal with kids' food issues with TV is to have them playfully pummel their friends for every bite they take.

A Kasier Family Foundation study says young children see too many food commercials. The most affected category is tweens, 8- to 12-year-olds, who view almost 21 commercials a day, or 7,600 a year. That's more than toys, video, or movies ads.  The study found that 50% of ad time on children's TV shows is devoted to food, and 72% of that is for candy, snacks, sugary cereals or fast food.

Kids ages 2-7 see the least, only 12 spots a day, in part because there are many non-commercial networks that at least half that age group views -- stuff like Noggin, Nick Jr., Playhouse Disney, and PBS/Comcast's Sprout.



That big sigh you hear comes from kids' TV advertising sales executives, seeing their big commissions go down the drain this kids' upfront season.  Kaiser is piling on -- as the federal government is ramping up efforts to tackle kids' obesity issues, led by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas).

Kids' TV networks would say food ads will still be on television this season --just not advertising products that turns kids into big soccer balls. They'll say food makers are advertising food that has lower sugar, lower calories and better nutrition.

But this isn't the problem. Nutrition or even granola bars are still basically sugar-filled snacks -- even with organic evaporated cane juice. But it isn't the quality necessarily -- it's how much to put into one's body.  You can get fat by eating the healthy and organic food, and then you are stuck with the same issue. 

The food industry should take its cue from liquor advertising, where those "drink responsibly" messages kick in periodically for every beer or hard liquor commercial that gets played.

That would mean every Snickers bar ad, sugary cereal, and fruit drink commercial should be followed by a "eat responsibly" message -- followed by another message to "exercise regularly."

The TV and food concerns for kids are subtler than liquor TV issues for adults. Exercise and health messages are tougher to tackle. Naturally, it's parents' responsibility, ultimately -- not the media's. Still, TV networks shouldn't turn away blindly -- otherwise the Federal government might put media on a food commercial diet someday.

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