Marketing to Kids

Marketing and advertising directed at children (and parents) has a strong impact on the kinds of foods and beverages that children want to eat.

The Internet, television, games, toys and characters on food products, clothing, utensils and placemats are all marketing tools that companies use to sell their products.

Among children two to six years old, even a brief exposure (10 to 30 seconds) to advertisements can influence their food, drink and toy preferences

Marketing companies direct advertising at children to build lifelong brand loyalty, meaning a person will buy products repeatedly from the same company.

  • 90% of foods and beverages promoted to children are high in sugar, fat and/or salt (sodium)
  • Children see over 25 million ads for food and beverages a year on their favourite websites
  • Studies show that children under the age of five years cannot tell the difference between commercials and television programming

Child care providers have a responsibility to support healthy childhood growth and development by creating supportive healthy environments that are free of marketing and advertising, and that foster healthy choices. 

Here are some ways to support this:

  1. Allow only commercial-free TV programs or tape TV programs and movies in advance. Be sure to fast-forward through commercials in both TV programs and movies. Watch children’s programming on commercial-free channels.
  2. If children are using computers, avoid company-sponsored websites, advertisements on Internet sites and all digital advertising through email, text messaging, online quizzes, puzzles and adver-games (videogame promoting a brand-name product by featuring it as part of the game).
  3. Educate families so they also limit their children’s screen time and become advocates for stricter rules on food and beverage advertising to children.
  4. Do not sing songs (such as the “fast food song”), read books or play games that promote unhealthy food and beverages.
  5. Do not accept promotional items from food and beverage companies such as toys, books, sports equipment, playground equipment, placemats, dishes, free samples, coupons and more.