Firms praised for efforts on kids' marketing

But it's not enough, warns FTC, as $1.6 billion spend is exposed

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lauded American food and beverage companies for their efforts in changing the way they market their products to children — but also warned more needs to be done. The commission found that in 2006, 44 major food and drink companies spent $1.6 billion advertising their products to children up to 17 years of age; more than half targeted ages 12 and under.

FTC commissioner Jon Liebowitz said, "Most large food marketers are beginning to take their self-regulatory obligations seriously, and for that they deserve recognition." He cited the Children's Food and Beverage Initiative, under which 13 food and beverage companies pledged to market their products more responsibly.

Yet some companies still need to step up to the plate and others need to strengthen their efforts. The FTC recommended all companies adopt "meaningful, nutritional standards for marketing their products," and called on media and entertainment companies to restrict licensing of TV and movie characters to healthier products. In the UK, meanwhile, the government has introduced controversial new rules that stop high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods — including many top-selling breakfast cereals — from being advertised on TV.

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