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The Wall Street Journal reports that a pair of consumer advocacy organizations – Consumers International and the International Obesity Task Force – have developed a code of marketing conduct that they hope governments around the world will adopt and enforce, putting restrictions on the kinds of food products that can be marketed to children.

According to the Journal, “The groups are calling for a ban on radio or television advertising of food and beverages that are high in fat, sugar and salt between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.; a ban on marketing such food via social-networking Web sites and other forms of new media; a ban on gifts and toys as a way of promoting unhealthy food; and a ban on the use of celebrities and cartoon characters to market such food.”

The groups made the proposal on Saturday during a meeting of the World Health Organization for the annual observance of World Consumers Rights Day.

The Journal notes that a number of companies – including Kraft, Kellogg, General Mills and PepsiCo – already have announced voluntary guidelines that will restrict the kind of products they will market to kids under the age of 12. But the two consumer organizations object to where the line is being drawn – they would like to see 16 as the line of demarcation.

KC's View:
Putting aside for the moment the issue of whether such marketing guidelines should be government mandated, I do think that drawing the line at age 16 seems a little unreasonable – that we’d all be better off if we taught our kids how to make intelligent choices rather than believing that a simple ban on TV/radio advertising is going to change their behaviors.

Especially these days, because these kids have access to so much, it becomes increasingly critical for parents – supported by the schools (not vice versa) – to show involvement and offer guidance to our kids. (But I’m not really softening on this issue…I still think that offering McDonald’s Happy Meals in exchange for good grades borders on the criminal!)