Fast Food Advertising And Childhood Obesity

Topics: Nutrition, Fast food, Advertising Pages: 5 (1775 words) Published: April 13, 2014

Fast Food Advertising And Childhood Obesity

A rise in obesity has been observed in the United States in the last two decades. Obesity is one problem that gives birth to numerous fatal diseases, including but not limited to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a survey and found that, “More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese” (Ogden, Carroll). One of the main reasons behind obesity is the American’s love for fast food. Fast food contains only a small proportion of essential nutrients, and is loaded with unhealthy and non-essential nutrients which do nothing but contribute to obesity and resulting diseases. An equally increasing trend has been observed in the openings of new fast food locations. The fact sheet issued by National Restaurant Association shows that “970,000 new fast food locations were opened in year 2012 and the restaurant-industry share of each food dollar spent stands at 48%” (2012 forecast). Those parents who know about the adverse effects of fast food consumption try their best to keep their children away from it. But no matter how hard they try to shield their children, some negative forces like advertising provides them a complete exposure to such unhealthy food. A kid may never have eaten a McDonald’s hamburger, but he/she definitely knows what it looks like, thanks to the power of commercials. “A study of almost 100,000 food ads on TV showed that 89% of ads that teenagers see are promoting products high in fat, sugar, and/or sodium” (Taylor, Daniel). The advertisers are very smart and they never tell the complete story of products they advertise. They make the food look so tempting that it becomes irresistible for everyone especially kids. They best know the techniques to reach out the targeted consumers. Most of the TV advertisements show super-sized meals at cheaper prices but they never show that the excess consumption results in excess calories input. “A study by Tirtha Dhar and Kathy Baylis indicates that the parents whose children are constantly begging for fast food, after being exposed to TV ads end up purchasing fast food more frequently than parents whose children are not exposed to advertising” (Dhar, Baylis 3). In order to build a prosperous and healthy nation, Government should take action to ban fast food advertising completely to the children. Achievement of this goal requires unity and mutual efforts by whole nation. The issue of fast food advertising to children is not new and an initiative was taken by the Federal Trade Commission after the joint workshop of FTC and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Marketing, Self-Regulation and Childhood Obesity held in 2005. FTC was the first ever organization in the US which recommended that the Congress ban fast food advertising to children under age of 12. According to a report issued by them to Congress, “44 reporting companies spent approximately $1,618,600,000 to promote food and beverages to children and adolescents in the U.S. in 2006. Approximately $870 million was spent on food marketing directed to children under 12 and a little more than $1 billion on marketing to adolescents” (Kovacic, Harbour, Leibowitz and Rosch). Congress has not worked on any of the recommendations presented in the report yet. It seems like they care more about the profits earned by the giant fast food industry than the health and wellness of general public. Banning fast food advertisements won’t solve the obesity problem at once but it is surely one of the best steps in the right direction – a step that more law makers should not be afraid to take. “The similar advertising bans already exist in some jurisdictions such as in Quebec (Canada) and few Scandinavian countries” (Dhar, Baylis 7). “Sweden, Norway, and Finland have banned commercial sponsorship of...

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Dhar, Tritha., Baylis, Kathy. ”Fast Food Consumption and the Ban on Advertising Targeting Children: The QuÈbec Experience.” Journal of Marketing Research 48.5 (2011). American Marketing Association. Pg 2-10. Web. 03 November, 2012.
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