Iconic symbols of favorite childhood candies like Mr. Jelly Belly and Peeps are no longer to be seen on children’s television after six candy and chocolate companies agreed to stop televised advertising to children under 12. In an agreement with the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB) and the National Confectioners Association (NCA), the candy companies have pledged to combat child obesity by not directly advertising to children through television and at schools.
For the six companies, the initiative may not have a significant effect on their overall revenue of $35 billion per year. This is due to the fact that adults have more buying power than children. These adults, who are less likely to be affected by the initiative, still contribute more to the sweets sales compared to younger children, according to the New York Daily News. The younger children rely on their parents for buying them candy and older children only have a limited amount of money that they can spend from allowances. In the chocolate industry, which currently generates $21.1 billion out of the yearly revenue, 81% of the consumers of chocolate were adults, according to a report by the NCA in 2010.
“Not having advertisements for children would not affect the adult consumption of candy. Also, children have restrictions anyways even if they had money to spend, so taking away the advertisements would not make much of a difference in sales,” said Sophomore Aimee Kim.
Child obesity may be decreased by the initiative. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 3 out of 4 advertisements that children are exposed to are for unhealthy food, and the children most at risk eat them from these advertisements are between the ages of 8 and 12 as they likely have money to spend and are starting to develop food habits. By taking out advertisements, the numbers for child obesity may reduce because the stimulus for eating them disappears. In a study conducted published by Public Health Nutrition, the subjects ages 9-11 consumed more high-fat and/or sugar-filled snacks after being shown a cartoon with food advertisements at the beginning than subjects who only watched the cartoon.
However, some may contend that taking the advertisements out would have no affect on the consumption and on child obesity.
“Children do not need the advertisements to eat candy. Taking them out [of shows] would not solve the problem of excess consumption that affects child obesity. If candy were in plain view of them, such as setting the candy out in a bowl in front of the TV, it could make children eat them more than using advertisements,” said Freshman Thanh Ly.
Candies and chocolates are not the only culprits of child obesity. Drinks like juices and sodas have high sugar concentrations which can lead to excessive sugar consumption correlated with obesity. They are also more accessible during meals compared to sweets that are saved for dessert. In order to lower child obesity rates, regulating and examining the entire diet of children, not just the obvious sugar sources, could be more effective.