Kid Ads Leave a Bad Taste in UK Mouths

fat kid with junk foodAn article by Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor of The Telegraph shines light on food companies circumventing ad rules to target kids unhealthy products. According to Smith, companies such as Kellogg’s, Rowntree and even Cadbury have set up websites with games and videos targeting kids. And if engaging via the digital playground were not enough, social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, even email, have been employed to get around government ad regulations.

Junk food is the drug, and some of your family’s favorite companies are the pimps. This is what the story amounts to. Amid criticisms from doctors and other health experts, governmental watchdogs have also apparently let junk food company advocates sit in on their decision making process.

With TV ads for unhealthy foods down the tubes, companies have increasingly sought other conduits to present their less than healthy wares to kid consumers. Smith consulted a report from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the Children’s Food Campaign (CFC), citing many disturbing facts about ads. Smith’s article does not link to, but makes mention of some of the biggest unhealthy kid advert sites.

We Google searched such Kellogg’s ones as Krave the cereal (FB variant here – image of game below), Cheesestrings form Kellogg’s (game page here), even the Krave YouTube Channel, revealing just how massive an ad campaign Kellogg’s has online for a pretty vast array of child targeted products, not many of which could be classified as healthy foods in our view.

Kellogg's cereal junk ads online

Kellogg’s Krave game for kids

For information on how you can help the British Heart Association combat unhealthy food ads, please sign up via this form. Marketing to kids, for most reputable companies, entails very strict guidelines. See Brio or Brill wooden toys practices, among others who do not market to kids or market delicately. Meanwhile Mubeen Bhutta, policy manager at the BHF, had this to offer the newspersons on the flip side of kid foods online;

 “Like wolves in sheep’s clothing, junk food manufacturers are preying on children and targeting them with fun and games they know will hold their attention.”

Clearly, advertisers in the UK with a free hand to throw everything they have at kids online, may be the worst PR and marketing goof in history, if parents take up the gauntlet to try and get what’s best for their children. Laura Donnelly has a go at Kellogg’s and others in her recent article too. At the tail end of this conversation are metrics suggesting one in three children in the UK becoming obese by the time they leave primary school. Obese children seldom revert to good eating habits as adults. Check out the ingredients of Krave via Kellogg’s site:

Cereal Flours (Oat, Rice & Wheat), Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Hazelnut (4%), Chocolate (4%) (Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Flavouring), Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder, Skimmed Milk Powder, Lactose (from milk), Salt, Almonds, Colour (Carotenes, Annatto), Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin), Antioxidant (Ascorbyl Palmitate, Alpha Tocopherol), Niacin, Iron, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (B2), Thiamin (B1), Folic Acid, Vitamin B12.

A last note, the BBC reported earlier this month on UK obesity issues. One in three children, later on becomes one in three adults. The amount of sugar advertised on the web surely outweighs all the cocaine in route worldwide, and the end result of its consumption and misuse is the same. We are wondering whatever happened to those sustainable corporations dedicated to our health?

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