Advertising to Children Essay 2

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Obesity & Advertising
To Children

By:
Stephanie Shumpert
Axia College of University of Phoenix

Table of Contents

Introduction............................................3
Obesity in Children..................................3
Purchasing Power of Children..................4
Advertisements Targeted to Children….4-5
Regulating Advertisements....................5-6
Lowering Obesity Levels.......................6-8
Concluding Remarks.................................8
References.................................................9

Food advertisements have begun focusing on children more frequently than in the past. This is perhaps the main reason for the increase in childhood obesity. The “pesture power” (Gunter, Oates & Blades, 2005, p.3) that children possess makes them a valuable and easy target for marketers, because they cannot fully process the message. Many laws have been passed to help regulate the advertisements that are directed toward children, but they primarily focus on safety, not nutrition.

Advertisements are not the only reason for the increase in childhood obesity. People must also blame parents for buying these products, the schools for not stressing physical education and nutrition, and parents for not limiting their children’s idle time. By correcting these areas, the negative impact of childhood obesity can be reversed.

Obesity in Children
Children are obese if their body mass index (BMI) falls above the 95th percentile (Davidson & Longe, 2008). Between the years of 1971 and 1974, an average of five percent of children aged two to 19 were obese (Davidson, et al., 2008). By 2004, more than 22% of children in the same age range were obese (Davidson et al., 2008). These numbers are shocking, and enforcing some actions will allow the United States to take control of this overwhelming problem. We cannot allow our nation to progress on this path of self-destruction. Obesity causes many health issues including Type II diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, depression, and numerous others (Davidson, et al., 2008). Simply teaching our children differently will avoid our children’s lives starting with any of these problems.

Purchasing Power of Children
Children have superior power in convincing their parents to buy what they want. Gunter, Oates, and Blades (2005) refer to the power that children use to influence their parents decisions as “pester power” (p.3). This simply means that if a child wants something badly enough, he will bother his parents until they give in and buy the item, just so they do not have to hear about it anymore. Children 12 and under influenced more than 250 billion dollars of family spending in 2000 (Gunter, et al., 2005). They also spent an additional 28 billion of their own earnings and allowances (Gunter, et al., 2005). This spending crosses several categories including food (at home and away), apparel, toys and video games (Hawkins & Mothersbaugh, 2010).

Advertisements Targeted to Children
After viewing the numbers above, it is obvious why marketers spend nearly 15 billion dollars annually in advertising to children (Hawkins, et al., 2010). Over half of the advertisements directed at children are food ads (Olsen, 2007). Of these advertisements, 88% promote unhealthy foods such as candy, sugary cereal, snacks and fast food (Olsen, 2007 & Martin, 2007). Advertising these products does increase their consumption, but there is no way to determine the eating patterns that would exist in the absence of this type of advertising (Hawkins, et al., 2010).

Nickelodeon uses famous cartoon characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and Rugrats to promote junk food products (Martin, 2007). Disney uses characters such as Tinkerbell and Winnie the Pooh to promote their products (Hawkins, et al., 2010). These characters influence the choices of children around the world and need to start using their power to promote healthy...
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