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Viacom & Kellogg to be Sued for Marketing Junk Food

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Parents and advocates are suing Viacom (one of the largest entertainment companies in the world) and Kellogg, to prevent them from marketing junk food to young children.

The plaintiffs allege that these two companies knowingly and directly harm children's health by marketing mainly food products high in sugar, saturated and trans fat, or salt, and mainly without any nutritional value. [The Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)] announced that the plaintiffs will ask a Massachusetts court to forbid the companies from marketing junk foods to audiences where 15 percent or more of the audience is under age eight, and to cease marketing junk foods through web sites, toy giveaways, contests, and other techniques aimed at that age group.

The lawsuit comes just six weeks after the [Institute of Medicine] reported that food advertising aimed at children works. Because mainly junk foods - high in sugars and calories and low in nutrition - are marketed the most by these companies, the effect is detrimental for children: it could lead to obesity and malnourished kids.

The report states that "the prevailing pattern of food and beverage marketing to children and youth in America represents, at best, a missed opportunity, and at worst, a direct threat to the health prospects of the next generation."

The Massachusetts statute the plaintiffs are suing under provides for damages of $25 per violation of unfair or deceptive advertising. In this case, a violation would occur each time that a Massachusetts child sees an ad for a junk food on Nickelodeon, (Viacom) or sees a Kellogg junk-food ad on that or another network, or sees Kellogg junk-food packaging that bears SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, or other cartoon characters.

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