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Junk food marketing has gone way beyond TV advertising to target our kids, which probably doesn't surprise but many parents may not even realize where it's all coming from. So says a new report out this past week “Interactive Food & Beverage Marketing: Targeting Children and Youth in the Digital Age”. The report, from Berkeley Media Studies Group and the Center for Digital Democracy, says food marketers are infiltrating our kids' lives via cell phones, instant text messaging, Ipods, video games, user-generated video, and three-dimensional virtual worlds (do you even know what some of these things are? I bet your kids do!).


In this age of digital kids are truly getting bombarded. The report calls this new tactic "marketing ecosystem" and list some pretty telling examples of this craziness.
  • McDonald's ran a recent campaign urging kids to send them a text for an instant electronic coupon. The campaign goes on to offer free ring tones and encourages users to tell their friends

  • The Kellogg Company advertises web addresses on their cereal packages (Corn Pops to be specific) that collects all of the users personal information including cell phone number through a series of pop up messages. They then text them a trivia questions for which they get a free Corn Pops screensaver. I wonder how hard the questions are.....?

  • Coca-Cola and Pepsi can track teen's online behavior to then target them with ring tones, sports and entertainment "experiences" and so on.

  • Kraft's Lunchables and M&Ms use a variety of instant messaging techniques

And the list goes on. I would too but some of this digital stuff is way beyond me, I had to read through some of these techniques a few times before getting a grip on how they work. It's unbelievable. You've got to check it out... I found it very eye opening. Go to www.digitalads.org.

Senator Tom Harkin (Democrat from Iowa) wrote a letter of support for the report the same week he bashed the maker's of Shrek for allowing the star Ogre to push high sugar and high fat foods to kids like Pop-Tarts, candy etc. "If these industries continue on their present course, government has a responsibility to act," said Harkin. "We are not going to stand idly by in the face of a worsening epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes." My hero!

What do you think? Should Shrek push Pop-Tarts?

Have a fruit and veggie filled day!
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About the Author

Registered dietitian Andrea N. Giancoli is a nutrition advocate, consultant and educator.

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