October 31, 2003

Legislative Activity

Date:October 31, 2003

To:AAF Academic Committee and College Advisors

From:Jeff Perlman, EVP-government affairs
Clark Rector, SVP-state government affairs
Connie Frazier, SVP-AAF Mosaic Center & educational services

Re:Food Advertising Research

As you are no doubt aware, the issue of obesity - and in particular childhood obesity — is receiving increased attention from public health professionals and policymakers. The causes and proposed solutions are varied, the role of advertising is under increased scrutiny.

AAF is working with policymakers, the food industry and other interested groups to develop an effective strategy to address this serious problem. We believe that as advertising is considered, it is important to examine not only whether or not advertising contributes to the problem as many critics claim, but whether advertising can be a part of the solution.

A coherent, effective policy must be based on reliable information and research. That is where we need your help. Listed below are a number of areas where we need better data. If you have done — or know of — research on any of these topics please let us know as soon as possible. Please feel free to pass this memo on to colleagues who may be familiar with research in these areas.

Thank you for your help with this important issue. Please do not hesitate to call us at 1-800-999-2231 if you have any questions or comments.

Information/Research Requested

  • The volume of advertising to kids
  • The volume of television viewing by kids
  • The mix of marketing directed to kids
  • The mix of advertisements directed to kids
  • The volume of advertisements for foods such as fruits, vegetable, and whole grains
  • The volume of advertisements for foods such as soft drinks, fast food, and candy
  • The volume of advertisements in schools, as well as what types of food products are advertised in schools
  • The number of companies that have introduced reduced or enhanced versions - i.e., lower fat, lower sodium, higher calcium - of existing products
  • The volume of advertisements for these alternatives
  • Data on how much food purchasing is done by children
  • The volume of in-school marketing/advertising
  • Information for and against causal link between obesity and advertising
  • Information for and against link between advertising and behavior in children - cognitive development and capacity for children to understand intent of advertising
  • Information on successes or failures of marketing to children
  • Information on success of PSA's with children
  • Information on how much food choice controlled by children
  • Information on how much of parental food choice controlled by children
  • Information on "pestering" - is there a problem, a causal link?