Fast Food Advertisement Regulations

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Zachary Buerkle
November 12, 2012
Is fast food the new tobacco?

Should government further regulate fast food advertisements as done with tobacco advertisements?

On June 22 of 2010, over ten years of intensive planning from the FDA would finally result in the extensive regulation of the $89 billion tobacco industry. Although the newly created laws could not illegalize nicotine or tobacco, the FDA was given vast authority to regulate the ingredients in tobacco products as well as the way they were sold, distributed, and marketed (lawpublish.com). Now when viewing a tobacco ad in any form, any individual would obviously be capable of seeing the negatives and health risks of the product. Recently, skeptics have been raising question as to weather or not extreme regulations similar to those on tobacco should be enforced on the fast food industry, a multi-trillion dollar industry. Such regulations would be unnecessary as the fast food advertisements already abide by rules and regulations that were set to favor the people. Obesity in America is an obvious problem for many, and has been on a steep incline for years. Huffingtonpost.com/obesity says “finding the causes of the dramatic increase in obesity among children and adolescents is an important input in designing prevention policies . . . weight gain is caused by more energy intake than energy expenditure over a long period of time.” When raising the question of whom to blame for this issue, many fingers are pointed at the fast food industry. But if the problem with weight gain is not necessarily with the food that is consumed, then it is with the activity in the lives of people. Why are video game companies and reclining chair companies not put under the same speculations as the fast food companies? In today’s childhood, junk food and video hours of video games are daily parts of life. Even when in a group of people, video gaming and lack of physical activity are extremely evident. The lack of expending the energy consumed by fast food is a major part of the rising obesity rate. So why are such accusations made only toward to food agencies, and not other major factors of obesity. Steep accusations toward fast food have brought up many speculations regarding weather or not the fast food industry has “deceived” their customers and weather or not governmental implementations and regulations implemented to fix this would be overstepping boundaries and rights. The great thing about the first amendment is that it gives people, for the most part, the right to say whatever they want. And although advertising agencies enjoy the same right, it is somewhat limited to protect the people from deception. Lawpublish.com reveals, “The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), for example, may regulate speech that is found to be “deceptive.”” It can be said that the fast food industry does not break any advertising codes or portray any incorrect information in their advertisements, and that there is no need for them to change the way they go about marketing their product.

It is no secret that the fast food industry is extremely large and powerful, especially in America, a country where approximately one third of the entire population is obese. As is the tobacco industry, while one fifth of the entire population smokes regularly. It is obvious that both industries have expensive advertisement budgets, each trying to grab the attention of people of all ages. And it was not until 2010 that the tobacco industry was nailed with extreme regulations that drastically altered the way they do business. “The Food and Drug Administration announced rules Thursday that will severely restrict the way the tobacco industry can advertise and sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products . . . “ (Washington Post) Many people believe that, like the tobacco industry, advertisements for fast food restaurants should be severely regulated to tell a more truthful story. It is however quite evident that the...
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