Nickelodeon markets poor nutritional food

Sept. 23, 2008 at 12:29 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Despite pledges to combat child obesity, most foods marketed by the cable channel Nickelodeon are of poor nutritional quality, a U.S. non-profit group said.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington first analyzed Nickelodeon food marketing in 2005 and found 88 percent of foods marketed to children were nutritionally poor, however, a similar analysis in 2008 found 79 percent of the foods marketed by Nickelodeon are foods like sugary cereal, candy, sugary drink with little or no fruit juice and fast food.

In addition, the percentage of food packages sporting Viacom characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and Shrek increasingly contain unhealthy foods, Margo G. Wootan, CSPI nutrition policy director, said.

In 2005, Nickelodeon executive Marva Smalls told the Federal Trade Commission the children's channel would use its characters to promote spinach, oranges and other healthy foods, but advertisements for those foods are totally absent from the company's airwaves and magazine ads, Wooten said.

The group reviewed 28 hours of children's television programming on Nickelodeon, during which 819 commercials and public service announcements were shown. Of the 185 food ads, 177 had nutrition information available, and 138, or 78 percent, of those were for foods of poor nutritional quality.

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