Childhood Obesity and Television

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Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the United States of America and continues to increase at an alarming rate. To eradicate this problem, children need to spend more time engaged in physical activity, instead of watching television. In this paper, evidence will show how television is having a negative impact on children, by way of commercialism and advertising. An overwhelming majority of commercials are geared toward children that entice them to make bad food choices.

Today’s youth spend about four and a half hours every day watching television, and are pressured by the programming and advertising they see. Studies show that it can be difficult for children to differentiate between programming content and advertising{Foundation, 2004, paragraph 5}. Advertisers target kids on a daily basis and something needs to be done to stop them, or at the very least, put a limit on the number of commercials that cater to children. Advertisers go after children because they are easy prey and can manipulate their parents into giving them what they want. To combat this growing problem, the FCC teamed up with the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity and released a report to the President, entitled “Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a generation”(Let’s The report included suggestions on how changes in food marketing can lower childhood obesity, such as, media and entertainment companies as a whole should restrict their licensing of their most popular characters to food and drinks that are wholesome and in tune with nutritional standards( The research conducted will come from peer reviewed journals, articles, and government websites. The evidence will prove how television can have a bad influence on kids due to the commercials they are constantly being exposed to. Researchers at the University of California

investigated the types of food commercials viewed by youth watching English and Spanish- language American TV programs on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons. The findings consisted of programs from twelve networks. Out of 5,724 recorded commercials, 1162 dealt with food and 91.2% of the food promotions were in English, while only 8.7% were in Spanish. There was only one bilingual commercial. Children’s programming exposed viewers to 76% more food commercials per hour than the other networks. Approximately 7.7 food commercials each hour are in children’s programming. That means a food commercial is shown every 8 minutes (Bell, 2009). The average American kid views more than 40,000 TV commercials every year. That translates into about 100 commercials a day! The American Psychological Association says that children under the age of 8 can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. Therefore, they’re more likely to believe whatever an advertiser tells them. Researchers have also noticed a link between childhood obesity and the number of junk food commercials children see. Other studies have shown that kids who see more commercials have higher rates of anxiety and depression. (Anonymous, 2007).

There are some people who believe that Congress should pass laws making it illegal to advertise to kids. However, marketers and advertisers say that they care about children and will start controlling their ads. A number of advertisers have chosen to run healthy food ads and scale back on using popular characters.(Anonymous, 2007). As part of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, 17 advertisers have vowed to enhance the health content of their products and alter their marketing plans. Elaine Kolish, VP-director of the CFBAI, said advertisers in 2007 were required to advertise healthy products in 50% of their media time that was focused on kids, but every marketer that was involved ended up promoting those products in all their kids’ ad time. In January 2010, it became a requirement, also...
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