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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

What's in Foods Marketed to Kids? Findings Presented at EB / April 30, 2007 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Text: Experimental Biology 2007: Link to website.Dozens of USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists are presenting at Experimental Biology 2007, held at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., April 28 to May 3.

Experimental Biology 2007 is a multi-society, interdisciplinary, scientific meeting featuring award lectures, symposia, oral and poster sessions, exhibits and more.

At the conference on April 29, five ARS research scientists were honored at the American Society for Nutrition's Awards and Tributes Program:


From the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University:
  • Robert Russell, M.D., Center Director, named a Fellow of the American Society for Nutrition.
  • Jose Ordovas, Ph.D., Director, Nutrition and Genomics Laboratory, received the 2007 Centrum Award for Nutrition Science.
  • Sarah Booth, Ph.D., Director, Vitamin K Laboratory, received the 2007 Stokstad Award.
  • Allen Taylor, Ph.D., Director, Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research, received the 2007 Osborn and Mendel Award.

From the USDA-ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor:
  • Dennis Bier, M.D., Center Director, named a Fellow of the ASN.

What's in Foods Marketed to Kids? Findings Presented at EB

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
April 30, 2007

When buying foods for children, it's reasonable to reach for those that feature extra nutrition information on the front of the package. Marketing labels that highlight, for example, "good source of nutrient x, y or z" appear to offer a nutritional home run.

But Agricultural Research Service (ARS) nutritionist Sarah Colby explains that more than half of the kids' foods that feature such information in the six major grocery stores in her local area were found to also be high in saturated fat, sodium and/or added sugar.

Colby is with the ARS Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D. She is among ARS scientists giving more than 100 presentations between April 28 and May 2 at the annual Experimental Biology (EB) 2007 meeting at the Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency. EB is sponsored by member societies of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, or FASEB.

For the study, Colby and colleagues surveyed nearly 57,000 food labels from the major grocery stores within the Grand Forks metropolitan area. Of those, 9,105 were perceived to be marketed toward children, based on qualifiers such as graphics, lettering and promotion designs.

Nearly 80 percent of those foods marketed toward children—about 7,284—carried some nutrition marketing information on the package. But 60 percent of the kid-oriented foods that were packaged with nutrition marketing—about 4,370 foods—were also high in saturated fat, sodium and/or added sugar, when compared to the levels recommended in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Other nutrition topics presented by ARS scientists at EB this year range from detecting health-enhancing bioactive food components to links between dietary intake and risk of fractures while aging.

More information on ARS presenters, session topics and award honorees is available upon request.

Last Modified: 4/30/2007
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