Does Advertising Unhealthy Food to Children in America Cause Obesity?

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Does Advertising Unhealthy Food to Children in America Cause Obesity?

Executive Summary

Since the 1970’s the United States has been witness to a growing epidemic of childhood obesity tripling and in some instances quadrupling. Due to this major health concern it is believed that the advertising of unhealthy foods is the cause of childhood obesity in America. Majority of the advertising is done via television, which promotes fast food or “junk food” and is usually low in nutrition and high in sugar and sodium. The Federal Trade Commission, Institute of Medicine, and various health interest groups understand the issue at hand, and have considered taking preventive measures to stop this problem. Understanding the laws and regulations, as well as the consequences of advertising unhealthy food towards children may shed some light on this grown problem of childhood obesity in the United States

Does Advertising Unhealthy Food to Children in America Cause Obesity?

Introduction
The problem of obesity is a huge problem in America, but what is even more of a problem is the alarming rate of childhood obesity. Over the years reports have show that our children’s weight has tripled, and in some cases quadrupled. As stated in a journal by Desrochers and Holt (2007) “In ten years from 1994 to 2004, overweight increase from 7.2% to 13.9% among children aged 2 to 5, from 11% to 19% among children aged 6 to 11, and from 11% to 17% among adolescents aged 12 to 19” (p. 1). The issue is clear, but the cause of this is still uncertain. Since the increase of obesity, children have been targeted in numerous food advertisement techniques, such as television, magazine, internet, covert advertising (i.e. advertising in movies), and celebrity or character advertising. Character advertising is a popular marketing tactic using cartoon characters to promote the product in commercials or is featured on the cover of the package. This is one example that has led many to believe that advertisers play a significant part in childhood obesity. Health groups, government agencies, child advocates and even parents believe that there is a link between this nationwide health problem and the television advertising targeted towards children, during children’s programming. Some people may ask the question “How can an advertisement cause a child to become overweight?” Darwin (2009) the advertising industry targets kids “because of their significant buying power”, they have the ability to buy the products with their own money or they can convince their parents to purchase it for them (p. 3). A child’s mind is very impressionable, at such a young age. Even during the teenage years it is believed that they are still influenced by what they see on television, even if they can understand the goal of the advertisement is to sell a product. Many advertisers feel that promoting these unhealthy foods to children has very little connection with the childhood obesity epidemic. However, television has remained as the main marketing tool to promote these products. Desrochers & Holt (2007) “Estimates indicate that children watch approximately two and one-quarter hours of ad-supported television per day, 66.5% of which is cable programming” (p. 4). Researchers have noticed that there have been some changes made over the years within television, which gives further belief that there is a direct correlation between advertising “junk food” and a child’s lifestyle of an unhealthy diet. So if there is a connection between the two then what should be done? Within this paper we will discuss some of the methods that advertisers use to promote their products, refer to research studies that support the idea of children gaining weight because of a television commercial. Also, the focus of government guidelines, as well as self-regulation by the advertisers will be discussed by a means of preventing this problem to continue in the United...
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