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Marketing Can Help Foster Healthy Eating Habits, IDFA Says

May 25, 2011

The Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children held a public forum yesterday to solicit comments on its proposed voluntary guidelines for food marketed to children, which the group released last month. IDFA Vice President Cary Frye presented oral comments, saying food and beverage marketing can play an important role in fostering healthy eating habits and motivating children to eat nutritious foods. She voiced support for a self-regulatory process and offered several suggestions to encourage greater consumption of dairy products.

"Our members are formulating healthier product options, like lower-calorie flavored milk, yogurts with sugar reductions, great-tasting reduced-fat cheese and creamy light ice cream made with skim milk," Frye said. "We need to encourage marketing of these dairy products to youth, not set up rigid restrictions that could discourage these marketplace trends."

Limited to a three-minute presentation, Frye listed five initial recommendations for improving the guidelines:

  1. Apply the level of nutrients allowed to the actual serving size, not the Reference Amount Customarily Consumed determined by the Food and Drug Administration;
  2. Clarify that naturally occurring levels of nutrients will not be counted for all dairy products made with low-fat milk;
  3. Remove the requirement limiting fat to 15 percent of calories for all dairy products;
  4. Align amount of allowed sugars with the Institute of Medicine's recommendations in its report on competitive foods in schools; and
  5. Eliminate the reference to one-percent fat for low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.

Read the comments here.

More than 20 representatives from a variety of food industry associations, health practitioners and consumer groups testified at yesterday's forum, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The working group will accept written comments through July 14.

IDFA will continue to review the guidelines to analyze their impact on the dairy industry and will work with interested members to draft full comments. The proposed guidelines and other information on the Interagency Working Group are available here.

The Interagency Working Group, comprised of representatives from FDA, the Federal Trade Commission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was established at the direction of Congress to develop recommendations for the nutritional quality of food marketed to children ages 2-17. The guidelines are part of the federal government's overall efforts to combat rising obesity rates among children. They are intended to help companies self-regulate their advertising efforts and improve the nutritional profile of the foods and beverages marketed to children. 

For more information, contact Frye at cfrye@idfa.org, or Michelle Matto, IDFA consultant on nutrition and labeling, at amfoodnutrition@gmail.com.

 

 
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