The IOM report recommends that research capacity be better directed to review how marketing influences the food and beverage choices of children and youth. Research should illuminate ways in which marketing influences children’s attitudes and behaviors; study newer promotion techniques and venues, healthier foods and beverages, portion sizes, and product availability; and examine the impact of television advertising on diet and diet-related health. Limited progress has occurred in this area to date, said Wartella. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and USDA have supported some of this research, but the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation remains the largest funder of research on food and beverage marketing to children and adolescents.
The IOM report recommends that the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) designate an agency responsible for formally monitoring and making regular reports on progress on the recommendations included in the report. The secretary should consult with other relevant cabinet officers and agency heads to develop and implement required monitoring and reporting and report to Congress within 2 years on progress made and any necessary additional actions. A report to Congress was made in fall 2008. However, no progress has been made in identifying a responsible agency to monitor the IOM report’s recommendations (FTC, 2008).
Overall, concluded Wartella, progress on the recommendations of the IOM report has varied from limited to moderate. A more recent IOM report on accelerating progress on obesity prevention, which includes marketing goals, contains recommendations similar to those of the 2006 report, including the following (IOM, 2012):
• Reduce overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
• Increase the availability of lower-calorie and healthier food and beverage options for children in restaurants.
• Implement common nutrition standards for marketing of foods and beverages to children and adolescents.
• Ensure consistent nutrition labeling for front-of-pack, store shelves, and menus.