Sen. Blumenthal to Nickelodeon: Ban Unhealthy Food Ads

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U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants the children’s media network Nickelodeon to drop junk food ads.

On Monday, Sen. Blumenthal and Jennifer Harris, of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, held a morning news conference at Yale University about the effects of unhealthy food advertisements on children.

A 2010 Yale University study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity suggested that Nickelodeon aired 25 percent of all food advertisements marketed towards children under the age of 12.

A similar 2012 study published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest suggested that 69 percent of all food ads aired by Nickelodeon promoted poor nutritional health.

More than one-third of children and adolescents in the United States are considered overweight or obese, the CSPI reported.

The study recorded 88 food advertisements across 28 hours of Nickelodeon programming in October 2012 and said more than two-thirds of the ads featured foods including sugary cereals and candy.

The same October 2012 study by the CSPI indicated that the percentage of unhealthy food advertisements dropped 10 percent between 2008 and 2012 and that the percentage of advertisements specifically for food dropped from 23 percent to 10 percent in 2012.

The CSPI made headlines in March after purchasing a full-page ad in The Hollywood Reporter depicting Spongebob as a criminal “wanted for impersonating a responsible media company while aggressively marketing obesity to kids.”

Nickelodeon is not currently a member of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and does not have a public policy detailing nutritional standards in marketing.

The Hill reported that Nickelodeon responded in a statement last year.

"No entertainment brand has worked as comprehensively and with more organizations dedicated to fighting childhood obesity over the past decade than Nickelodeon," the channel said.

Blumenthal said he plans to write to Nickelodeon.

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