The Association of National Advertisers wasted no time in criticizing guidelines released today by the Federal Trade Commission that call for restrictions on marketing aimed at kids in the latest salvo in the war on obesity.

Dan Jaffe, executive VP for government relations, considers the rules "sweeping" and "overly restrictive proposals which would become dramatically more restrictive after a five-year phase-in period." This blogger is against curbs on commercial free speech, but the report is an eye-opener.

The federal Working Group comprised of staffers from the FTC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and Dept. of Agriculture found that marketers spent a whopping $1.3B to target children from ages 2 to 12.

The McDonaldís-led quick service restaurant group heads the pact with outlays of $521M, a tally that includes those toy premiums that are addicting to the very young. Breakfast cereals came in second place with $229M, followed by snack foods at $113M.

Coke, Pepsi and other soda companies took top honors in the aiming at teens department, spending $474M of the $1B in overall marketing outlays. The Mickey D's squad followed at $145M, trailed by non-carbonated beverages at $109M.

The feds found 10 product categories that spent at least $50M in advertising to the youth. Besides the categories listed above, they are candy, dairy foods, baked goods, prepared foods and meals, frozen and chilled deserts.

The Working Group report also highlights the number of product groups within each category. For instance, snack foods include potato/tortilla/corn chips, crackers, cookies, processed fruit, gelatin and pudding, while baked goods are cakes, pastries, doughnuts, toaster items (frozen waffles, French toast),bread, rolls, bagels, breadsticks, buns, croissants, taco shells and tortillas.

Itís no wonder America has a waist problem.

The report cites a 2006 study by the Institute of Medicine that said there was insufficient evidence on whether TV advertising actually influenced the diets of adolescents. The Working Group therefore is considering narrowing its marketing focus to in-school marketing, social media, viral marketing and word-of-mouth, which would give PR a big hit.

The feds plan to iron out a final report by the end of the year. In the interim, parents should keep kids away from Froot Loops, Twinkies, Dunkiní Doughnuts, Chef Boyardee, Lunchables, Ring Dings and Pepsi Cola.

Fruit, vegetables and whole grains are pretty cool to eat. Now that would be a cool PR campaign for a firm that wants to help the U.S. slim down.