Marketing Food to Children – Anna Lappé

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Anna Lappé took the TEDxManhattan stage to take on the billion-dollar business of marketing junk food to children and teens, and asked the food industry to leave the parenting to the parents. Click here for Anna’s full bio. 

Video Length: 00:14:38

  • About Anna Lappé

    Author and Founder Small Planet Institute

    Anna Lappé is a national bestselling author and a founding principal of the Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund. more.

Publications & Reports


  • Anna Lappé is a national best selling author. In addition to her own books (below), Anna has contributed to many other publications. Take a look here.
  •  Diet for a Hot Planet, Anna Lappe, Bloomsbury USA, 2010.
    Anna picks up where her mother left off (Diet for a Small Planet) to expose another hidden cost in our food system: the climate crisis.
  • Grub, Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry, Tarcher, 2006.
    Here are Anna’s “ideas for an urban kitchen.” Anna shares and informs the reader about what to avoid but more importantly what to eat and how to cook it.
  • Hope’s Edge, Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe, Tarcher, 2003.
    Mother daughter dynamic duo, Anna and Frances, team up to travel the world to discover visionaries making a difference in world hunger.
  • Diet for a Small Planet, Frances Moore Lappé, Ballantine Books, 1985.
    In 1985, Anna’s mother wrote this bestselling book that taught Americans to see the social and personal significance of changing the way we eat.

Reports & Studies

  • Curbing the Marketing of Unhealthy Food to Children, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2014.
    This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study reports ways to create new policy and to better regulate youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing.
  • Fighting Junk Food Marketing to Kids: A Toolkit for Advocates, Berkeley Media Studies Group, 2006
    This study explores the background, resources and solutions for combating food marketing to children. See the Spanish translation here.
  • Food for Thought, Interagency Working Group, 2011.
    This Interagency Working Group Proposal on Food Marketing to Children hopes to encourage children to choose foods that are not only healthy but also have limited negative effects on health or weight (e.g. saturated fat, added sugars, trans fat and sodium).
  • Guidelines for Responsible Food Marketing to Children, The Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2006.
    The Center for Science in the Public Interest provides criteria for marketing to children. Among many others, these guidelines are targeted towards food manufacturers, restaurants, supermarkets, television and radio stations, movie studios, magazines, public relations and advertising agencies and schools.
  • Media-Smart Youth, National Institute of Health, 2012.
    This Media-Smart Youth workshop shows children the complex network of media around them and teaches them to make more informed and smart decisions about the food they eat.
  • Recommendations for Responsible Food Marketing to Children, Healthy Eating Research, 2015.
    This report offers a set of guidelines and recommendations for healthy marketing practices for children ages 0-14.


Discussion Questions

  • What role does advertising play in marketing to children?
  • Do you think it is unethical for companies to create advertisements that parents most likely will not see?
  • What can parents do to combat negative marketing campaigns aimed at their children?
  • Do you think dramatic changes in advertising could solve health problems?
  • How do we convince children to eat healthy and make eating healthy cool?

Additional Information

  • Browse Berkeley Media Studies’ database using its resource aggregator to discover books, journals, podcasts, reports, videos, webinars, websites and other publications relating to children’s health.
  • The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a voluntary self-regulation program which includes many of the nation’s largest food and beverage companies, seeks to shift food advertising for children to healthier choices and lifestyles.
  • Discover the affiliated organizations and associations that participate in the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, an alliance that advocates for policies and programs that promote healthier lifestyles.
  • In his article Parasites, Killing Their Host, Mark Bittman argues that one of the Food Industry’s biggest solutions to fighting obesity is to regulate the marketing of junk food to children.
  • The White House Convening on Food Marketing to Children brought together a group of experts and related individuals and groups to strategize ways to shift the marketing practices to kids. Read the summary of the event.

Take Action

Things You Can Do to Combat Exploitive Marketing Practices to Children

  • Join the Chef Ann Foundation and Do One Thing. Pledge to obtain a copy of your school’s wellness policy and then share it on social media using #DoOneThingCAF!
  • Sign up for the Nutrition Action Healthletter, the largest circulation health and nutrition newsletter in North America.
  • Write a letter to the PTA, principal or cafeteria coordinator at your local school to see how to improve the meals.
  • Start a community garden with Edible Schoolyard to support the edible education field.
  • Ask retailers to arrange healthier items on lower shelves, within children’s eyesight.
  • If you are a parent, limit the amount of television commercials your children can watch.
  • Go to Change Food’s Tumblr site to share and give us feedback on your experiences.


  • Pledge to obtain a copy of your school’s wellness policy through the Chef Ann Foundation Do One Thing campaign.
  • Visit The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s action page to see the current petitions.
  • The MythBusters action page features several campaigns about food marketing to children.