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9 December 2013
FastFood & Childhood Obesity
According to a recent study, “nearly 15 percent of U.S. youngsters… are obese” (Holguin). Heavily influenced by our society, childhood obesity in the United States is becoming a widespread and growing epidemic. Somewhere alongside almost all obese cases though, one can usually find a trail of unhealthy eating patterns. But what exactly are the causes for kids developing these unhealthy eating patterns? The answer to that question can be summed up in two words: FastFood. Through numerous, falsely advertised, colorful and clever made advertisements, to adding a “must have” toy to a happy meal, all the way to preconceiving the placements of buildings… fastfood chains are slowly shaping kids to want what they are advertising.
The big name fastfood joints are no dummies when it comes to how they advertise their food. They have cleverly integrated promotional giveaways into their fastfood kids’ meals to appear more appealing to the kiddos. I know for myself when I was a little girl, pulling up to the McDonald’s window to see which new girl toy came with the happy meal was one of my most favorite things. It was always more about the toy for me than the actual food. Dr. James Sargent, pediatrics professor at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College, kind of confirms my
experience by stating that "fastfood companies use free toys and popular movies to appeal to kids, and their ads are much more focused on promotions brands and logos – not on the food" (Weller). Furthermore, a new study published in journal PLOS One between 2009 and 2010 showed that
“nearly all of the fast food ads, 99 percent, that were aired nationally on children’s TV channels such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, were from McDonald’s and Burger King, and 70 percent of them included toy giveaways, frequently linked to childfriendly movies, to promote their product” (Sifferlin). The fastfood ad controversy is set right against the numbers of rising childhood obesity in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in the last thirty years childhood obesity has doubled in children and tripled among adolescents (Weller). Growing research over the topic is proving that kids of the 21st century are being influenced more and more by what they see and hear in popular culture and not what they are actually being exposed to at home. Parents can somewhat limit their child from the advertising or encourage them to eat healthy food, but as the popular saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t force him to drink”. Bottom line is, advertising affects the choices we make. It may be subtle at first but it can make a huge impact on our thought process over a certain topic overtime.
In addition to what these kids are seeing on TV is how often they are seeing it.“Although one in three American children are overweight or obese, fast food companies continue to spend billions advertising mostly unhealthy foods to children and teens”, (Taft) according to a new study by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. Even more frightening is that in a the multitudes of commercials out there more than 40 percent consist of candy, snacks and fast food
(CosgroveMather). After health officials have warned that kids were being inundated with commercials filled with junk food, researchers have now put numbers to those warnings in the largestever study of commercials aimed specifically towards children.. The study, the largest ever of TV ads for children, found that “America's kids are bombarded with commercials for unhealthy foods full of sugar, salt and fat,” reports CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker. Overall, the researchers saw, “2,613 ads featuring food and drinks that targeted children and ...
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CosgroveMather, Bootie.”Kids Get Diet of Junk Food Commercials”.cbsnews.com. CBS news,
Health Association, Mar. 2009. Web. 10 Dec. 2013.
Holguin, Jaime. "Fast Food Linked To Child Obesity." CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 5 Jan. 2004.
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Imus, Deirdre. "Limit Fast Food Advertising toward Kids, Lower Childhood Obesity
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Weller, Chris. “Fast Food Ads Targets Kids with Toys, Not Food: Is Childhood Obesity
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