in its multiple forms. With its growth in variety and penetration has come a concomitant growth in the promotion of branded food and beverage products in the marketplace, and the influence addressed in this report on the diet and related health patterns of children and youth.


The commercial advertising and marketing of foods and beverages influences the diets and health of children and youth. With annual sales now approaching $900 billion, the food, beverage, and restaurant industries take a central place in the American marketplace. Total marketing investments by these industries have not been clearly identified, although advertising alone accounted for more than $11 billion in industry expenditures in 2004, including $5 billion for television advertising. Television remains the primary promotional vehicle for measured media marketing, but a shift is occurring toward unmeasured sales promotion, such as marketing through product placement, character licensing, special events, in-school activities, and advergames. In fact, only approximately 20 percent of all food and beverage marketing in 2004 was devoted to advertising on television, radio, print, billboards, or the Internet.

Children and youth represent a primary focus of food and beverage marketing initiatives. Between 1994 and 2004, the rate of increase in the introduction of new food and beverage products targeted to children and youth substantially outpaced the rate for those targeting the total market. An estimated more than $10 billion per year is spent for all types of food and beverage marketing to children and youth in America. Moreover, although some very recent public announcements by some in the industry suggest an interest in change, the preponderance of the products introduced and marketed to children and youth have been high in total calories, sugars, salt, and fat, and low in nutrients.

How this marketing affects children and youth is the focus of this report. The process begins early in life. Children develop consumer socialization skills as they physically and cognitively mature. Over the span of ages 2–11 years, they develop consumption motives and values as they are exposed to commercial activities; they develop knowledge about advertising, products, brands, pricing, and shopping; and they begin to develop strategies for purchase requests and negotiation. The family is the first socializing agent, as parents and older siblings act as sources of information and provide social support and pressure that affect children’s behaviors.

Media now have a more central role in socializing today’s children and youth than ever before. Advertising and marketing messages reach young consumers through a variety of vehicles—broadcast and cable television, radio, magazines, computers through the Internet, music, cell

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