Wednesday, April 04, 2007

killing kids for profit

Kaiser Family Foundation contends that kids of this generation are bombarded with food advertising that may contribute to sky high obesity rates in youngsters.

The result is an alarming portrait of kids who are bombarded with precisely the opposite message about food and fitness than the one the government and the medical profession agree is needed for good health. Children between ages 2 and 7 see 12 food ads per day—that’s more than 4,000 per year. Those in the next age group—the pre-adolescent “tweens” between 8 and 12—see even more. They’re tuned in to 21 food ads every day, or more than 7,000 every year. Teenagers see somewhat fewer ads, but even they will view 17 food ads a day.

The foods that star in the ads aren’t broccoli or even bread. Kids are pitched a super-sized lineup of ads for candy and snack food, which account for 34 percent of food ads aimed at them. Another third of the ads are for cereal—and not the low-sugar kind.

I'm all about personal responsibility, as are most folks. But advertising works or the corporate world wouldn't indulge in billions of spending to bring their products to the public. There are surely a number of factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic, but it's hard to entirely discount advertising and the effect it has.

It took more than four decades from the time of the earliest government warnings about tobacco’s ill health effects to bring that industry under what is a minimal level of control—and even that came only after lawsuits, some of them still moving slowly through the courts. The food industry shouldn’t follow this contentious path. It must step up what are now only preliminary efforts to voluntarily change the content of the ads it produces for children.

Otherwise it too could stand accused of killing our kids for profit. There’s no way to sugarcoat that.


Blogger evilganome said...

I was having a conversation with a coworker who is also trying to watch his weight. A major factor in my life is that it is much more expensive to eat food that is good for you and I'm not talking about just free range broccoli raised by buddhist nuns in the foothills of Tibet. Just plain old fresh vegetables and non-frozen, non prepared meat are out of the reach of anyone on a budget. I'm single, so I can choose what to give up, in order to eat right. People on a budget with families don't have this choice.

April 04, 2007 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Tater said...

This aspect of the food industry dirves me crazy. Being a whore for the corporate food machine has it's costs upon my heart and soul. I have been refusing to work for tobacco, and for print ads aimed at children (for junk food) for a few years now. I see my nieces and nephews getting swept up in these shitty food habits, and it is totally disturbing. Adults can and should be able to think for themselves, so I haven't stopped working for advertisers who go after that audience. In fact, I have a fast food shoot coming up in April. I just wish everyone could look over my shoulder and see the absolute SHIT we have to salvage into pretty. The ingredient lists for the boxed shit that comes through the door reads like a chemistry book (inorganic). I have been trying to get my foot in the door with publications like "Plate" which focus on a more slow food approach, but it's been a slow road. Eat fresh and eat smart everyone.

April 04, 2007 8:46 AM  

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