Food is cheaper than ever, particularly the popular "value" lines. Today, it's possibly
cheaper to eat snacks and ready meals than fruit and vegetables. Work and time
commitments mean convenience foods are frequently selected instead of home
cooking. This has become a vicious circle so children are now growing up without
the knowledge and experience of cooking.
Marketing campaigns for confectionery are stronger and louder than healthy eating
messages. The use of character merchandising and peer pressure often means that
parents give in to the pester power of children in the supermarket. Quite commonly
2-tier advertising campaigns are being used. Initially products are marketed to
children using cool character merchandising and early morning broadcasting slots.
Then manufacturers send a healthy and convenience message on the product to the
parent at the point of purchase.
Another obvious factor is inactivity. Parents are scared to let their children play in the
streets and parks and are opting to keep children inside, protected against the world.
The lure of TVs, Playstations and computers to quieten a confined child, is strong. It
appears that the parental fear of stranger childhood abduction is greater than the fear
of childhood obesity. The statistics of obesity and abduction could suggest that there
is more threat in inactivity and poor nutrition, than successful child abduction2.
2 Who should be responsible for addressing the problem?
Whoever or whatever started the problem, the most important question is now who is
going to rectify it? Should it be Parliament, Manufacturers, Retailers, Advertisers,
Character Licensors, the Parents, or maybe even the Children themselves?
Many lay the blame firmly at the feet of industry for manufacturing and marketing the
products. Yes, industry has a role in the supply chain; however, the products are
labeled, so consumer information and choice are available. Yes,... [continues]
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