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PepsiCo to curb children's advertising over obesity concerns

LONDON - PepsiCo has responded to rising levels of obesity in the US with the promise that it will place voluntary restrictions on its advertising.

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The move comes following pressure from legislators and pressure groups to curb advertising to children.

Ad agencies and food companies, including General Mills, Kellogg and Kraft Foods, responded by creating the group Alliance for American Advertising to deflect government intervention in food ads, saying that they want to take a harder line against ad limits.

Several food giants, including PepsiCo, attended a forum to air the issues related to obesity and advertising. The gathering was sponsored by the government-affiliated Institute of Medicine and included marketing firms and child psychologists.

A PepsiCo spokesman said: "This is a US initiative. In the UK, PepsiCo is working with the rest of the industry to respond to the White Paper recommendations"

PepsiCo has announced it will stop advertising its flagship Pepsi-Cola brand to under-12s and will curb its commercials for Doritos chips brand to the under-eights.

The company, which is one of the world's largest makers of soft drinks and snack foods, will also be working within the UK industry in the latest measure to help prevent children becoming dangerously over weight.

In October last year, PepsiCo appointed Edelman in preparation for the November release of the Better Health White Paper and its recommendations for dealing with rising obesity levels.

The company, which owns the Walkers Crisps, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana brands, has been at the forefront of the obesity debate given the salt and sugar levels of its products.

Edelman aided PepsiCo's effort to lobby against proposals to introduce an outright or partial ban on junk-food advertising and a traffic-light food-labelling system that would alert consumers to fat content.

At the time, Stephen Kehoe, PepsiCo's vice-president of government affairs for Europe, said: "It is important the government understands the extent to which companies like PepsiCo are attempting to address the challenges posed by obesity and diet-related diseases."

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