Some 170 million children are overweight worldwide while one in eight people in the world are estimated to suffer from chronic hunger. ICCR is currently engaging many of the largest publically-held food, beverage, restaurant, retail, and media companies to highlight the risks and opportunities they face around the public health issues of obesity and undernutrition.
Rates of obesity for children in the U.S. are more than double (and for adolescents, quadruple) what they were in 1980, a reality that has profound implications for business and society. Food marketing influences children’s food selections and diet and for this reason has been highly scrutinized by high-level officials, regulators, and civil society institutions in the last decade. Marketing unhealthy food and beverage products to youth exposes companies to significant and growing regulatory, reputational, and even litigation risks which can have bearing on financial performance. At the same time, companies that promote healthier foods are poised to benefit from rapidly increasing consumer interest in nutrition and health.
ICCR members encourage companies to create strong nutrition policies, improve the nutritional profiles of their product portfolios, market food products responsibly, increase access to healthy choices, and communicate clearly with consumers about the nutritional content of their offerings.
In 2016, Mondelez halted direct advertising to children under 12. ICCR members have been in dialogue with the company, advocating for stricter policies that will shield kids in the 6-11 age group from direct ads for snack foods and products that may compromise children’s nutrition. Child-directed advertising for snack foods, sugary drinks and other unhealthy foods has been linked to the epidemic of childhood obesity, as children are considered especially vulnerable to these advertising messages.
DineEquity, a leading company in casual and family dining and owner of the Applebee’s and IHOP brands, removed sodas as the default beverage choice on its kids’ menus. ICCR members had submitted a shareholder proposal to DineEquity management requesting that the Board of Directors issue a report, including a risk evaluation “to assess whether the scope, scale and pace of the company's nutritional initiatives are sufficient to prevent material impacts on the company's finances and operations due to public concerns about childhood obesity and public and private initiatives to eliminate or restrict the fast food environment.”
Featured ICCR Initiatives
Multi-Stakeholder Roundtables. In 2016 ICCR and the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) hosted a children's nutrition Roundtable Innovative In-Store Marketing Strategies: How Today’s Grocery Retailer Can Positively Impact Childhood Obesity. The Roundtable’s objective was an open and substantive dialogue that would point to feasible steps retailers can take to help consumers identify and purchase healthier food and beverage products while shopping in store.
Getting Companies to Join the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. Since 2014, ICCR has been leading a coalition of 40 institutional investors representing over $61 billion in assets under management in sending letters to more than 30 food, restaurant, retail, and media companies urging these companies to join the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI). The CFBAI is a voluntary self-regulation program through which many of the largest global food and beverage companies are working to shift the mix of foods advertised to children under 12 to encourage healthier dietary choices. American Licorice, one of the companies that received our letter, recently announced it was joining CFBAI.
ICCR members are taking action because they view joining the CFBAI as an initial yet critical step companies can take in confronting the childhood obesity epidemic. In order to fully establish a new, healthier norm in the marketing environment for children and ensure that childhood obesity rates fall in all communities, the CFBAI needs broader participation. With this sign-on letter, ICCR and its partners are calling on all companies that are involved in advertising foods and beverages on children’s media to take responsibility for our children’s health and demonstrate commercial foresight by joining the CFBAI.
The Access to Nutrition Index: By assessing and ranking 25 of the world’s largest manufacturers on their nutrition-related commitments, practices and performance globally, ATNI aims to encourage companies to make a strong contribution to addressing poor nutrition and related diseases.
The Hudson Institute's Better for You Foods: An Opportunity To Improve Public Health And Increase Food Industry Profits: The mission of Hudson Institute’s Obesity Solutions Initiative is to bring about practical, market-oriented solutions to the world’s obesity epidemic.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Committed to tackling one of the most urgent threats to the health of our children and families—childhood obesity.
Food Marketing Workgroup: A network of more than 180 organizations and academic experts dedicated to eliminating harmful food marketing by actively identifying, investigating, and advocating changes to marketing practices that undermine health.
UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity: The Rudd Center works to improve the world’s diet, prevent obesity, and reduce weight stigma.
Healthy Food Access Portal:The nation's first comprehensive healthy food access retail portal, a collaboration between PolicyLink, The Food Trust, and The Reinvestment Fund.