Chile Bans Toys In Children’s Meals

Chile Bans Toys In Children’s Meals

Thu 16 Aug 2012

Story by The Food Revolution Team

Chile bans fast-food companies from putting toys in children’s meals following Disney’s new policy earlier this year to improve how food is marketed to kids.

A few weeks ago Chile passed a new law which bans fast-food companies from putting toys in children’s meals.

The new law means that fast food companies such as McDonalds, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and many more can no longer add toys or stickers to their meals in order to market their foods to children. And it’s not just fast food companies that the law impacts, cereal, chocolate and even pasta products are among those that will also have to stop using toys to attract young customers.

With nearly 25% of all six-year olds in Chile being obese this new law hopes to help tackle this obesity epidemic and change this statistic.

Although implementing this law is a big step in the right direction, Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich recognises that more still needs to be done, including educating the community on how to read labels, understanding what food is healthy and how to make the right food choices.

With the vast majority of food marketed to children being those of poor nutritional quality, including convenience/fast foods and sweets, removing toys as a marketing tool is a positive step. Yet across the world marketing to children remains a huge problem.

In North America, it has been reported that the food and drink industry spend around $2 billion each year on marketing, (which accounts to $5 million each day) and 80-85% of marketing to children is for food and drinks of poor nutritional quality – those that are high in saturated fat, sugar and sodium. In addition in the US only one-quarter of chain restaurants that market to children have food marketing policies and none of those address toys, like the new law in Chile, even though 99% of kids’ meals at top chain restaurants are too high in calories (1).

Many organizations are working towards improving marketing to children and working with companies to tighten the regulations around the types of foods and drinks that can be marketing to children of specific ages. The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) is a voluntary self-regulation program comprising 16 of the nation's largest food and beverage companies, including the Coca-Cola Company, McDonalds USA and General Mills, Inc., and is designed to shift the type of foods advertised to children under 12.

While there has only been modest progress with the CFBAI in getting most companies to self-regulate, and earlier in the year Congress lobbied against new proposed guidelines for food and beverage marketing, there have been some big wins.

Earlier in the year, Disney became the first major media company to establish a policy that all food and beverages marketed on its media outlets must comply with strict nutritional criteria. The policy, to be effective by 2015, will apply to Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney, and Disney-owned online sites oriented to families and marks a big step forwards in the future of food reform. In addition, the company introduced a new "Mickey Check" logo for food items meeting Disney's updated nutritional standards.

Now it’s up to others, such as Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network to step up and do the same.

What you think?

What do you think about the way companies’ market food to children and how do you think it should be regulated? Let us know by posting on our Food Revolution Community page!

The Food Revolution Team

1. Food Marketing Workgroup
2. CSPI: Company Policies on Food Marketing To Children

Image credit: CSPI


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