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No Wonder Kids Are Fat

Have you watched TV lately? Prime time evening shows are overflowing with commercials advertising junk food. Pizza, ice cream, candy bars, soda, sodium-filled snacks, and fast food. Where are the ads with fresh salads, fruits and whole grain snacks? Can you blame kids for the unhealthy choices they make when all they're exposed to is crap?

For years, health officials have warned us that kids were flooded with too many commercials glorifying unhealthy foods. Finally researchers studied the effects of these commercials.

Researchers monitored thirteen TV networks from late May to early September of 2005. On average, children ages 8-12 saw about 21 food commercials a day - that's 7,600 a year.

Of the food ads, 34% were for candy and snacks, 29% for cereal, 10% for drinks, 10% for fast food, 4% for dairy, 4% for prepared meals, and the rest for breads, pastries, and restaurants.

In December 2005, The Institute of Medicine concluded that these food commercials contradicted dietary guidelines for children and were putting children's health at risk. The Institute recommended that these companies change their marketing strategies and gear them towards healthier choices for impressionable and budding consumers.

In November, 10 major food and beverage companies including Coco-Cola Co., McDonald's, and PepsiCo Inc., agreed to voluntarily devote at least half of their kid-directed ads towards advertising healthier diets and lifestyles.

Don't get too excited just yet. Nothing has really changed so far, but researchers believe that this study that was recently released will help jumpstart these companies into following through with their health kick.

Join The Conversation
a-gentle-rain a-gentle-rain 10 years
I think that certain chemicals and the really bad stuff should be banned. I heard somewhere that in nyc they are banning trans fats. I wish they'd do that everywhere!
Butrfly4404 Butrfly4404 10 years
Have ya'll seen that new commerical with the heavy kid stuffing his face, playing a video game where the point is to eat? He has this epiphany like "This is a bad idea." I don't remember who put it out, but it's funny.
reeveske reeveske 10 years
I agree with you mollipop, but you have to also recognize that even if parents do encourage a healthy lifestyle, they don't have as much of an opportunity to influence their children as the advertisements do. I learned in a class in college once that by the time the average child is around 10 or 12 years of age (I don't remember exactly so don't quote me on it), they will have seen tens of thousands of food ads like the ones referred to above. Even if a parent teaches their child lessons about healthy eating an living at each meal they have together (which usually doesn't include lunch during the week) and during regular bouts of physical activity, that still doesn't even compare to that number.
mollipop mollipop 10 years
While I agree that some of the blame for kids becoming fat should be placed on advertising they are exposed to, I also think that parents have to play a direct role in their kids lifestyles and know when to set limits. Since both unhealthful eating habits as well as a sedentary lifestyle lead to overweight and obesity, parents should encourage their children to use their free time in a more physically active way and should provide more healthful food choices whenever possible. Also, while McDonald's isn't doesn't offer the most healthful options, other restaurants can be worse. Some family-friendly chain restaurants like Johnny Rocket, Ruby Tuesday and Macaroni Grill have some of the highest fat and calorie items I've ever seen. To read the nutrition facts for these restaurants is just scary! Anyway, I've ranted quite a bit, but basically I think since kids don't have all the knowledge or skills to make the best decisions parents should take better control.
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