Funny thing is: Avoiding hydrogenated oils is the latest *official* health
advice here in the UK - so that makes your sarcastic remark pretty
Yet children are falling prey to the junk food hungry predator...
"Junk food marketers spent an estimated $15 billion in 2002 on
marketing aimed at children."
I guess the lion is a master of deceit. Well, camouflage is a way of
life in the jungle.
Four Ways Junk Food Marketing Targets Your Kids
By Dr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege
You walk through the grocery store, planning to buy only the few items
on your list. You have just about made it down the first aisle when
your young child begins to beg for junk food item #1, green catsup. You
give in hoping it will make the rest of the trip easier, when just as
you turn the corner your child begins begging for another junk food
item, this time sugary cereal. Sound familiar?
Well, there's a reason why your kids want just about every sugary,
greasy, processed food that they can get their hands on. Since the day
your child was exposed to the outside world, through TV, magazines, the
radio--even school--they have been inundated with the persuasive
messages of the junk food industry. According to the National Institute
on Media and the Family, advertisements target children as young as 3
years old. As an adult it can be hard enough to resist these marketing
ploys, but for a child to resist is almost unthinkable.
Junk food marketers spent an estimated $15 billion in 2002 on marketing
aimed at children. They seek to push their low-nutrient foods into the
heads of children so that they in turn pester their parents to buy the
products. And their ploys appear to be working as one out of every four
American children are now seriously overweight or at risk of becoming
Of course, the ultimate decision of whether to purchase junk food is up
to you, the parent, but becoming aware of some of the most obtrusive
methods junk food marketers use can help you to protect your children
from these unhealthy messages.
You may have seen Pepsi's Web site, which features pop-singer Beyonce
and Cubs baseball player Sammy Sosa. Beyonce is quoted as saying "For
me, to build a relationship with Pepsi is incredible," while the site
says about Sosa, " For the past three seasons, Slammin' Sammy has
been powered by Pepsi."
This is just one example of a company using celebrities and athletes to
promote a less-than-nutritious product. Pepsi is certainly not the only
company to do so. Snickers brand candy bar has a TV commercial that
takes place in the Chicago Bears locker room and Kellogg's Frosted
Flakes cereal is touted as "The official cereal of the National Hockey
Many children see celebrities and athletes as role models and feel that
the products they endorse are worthwhile. They listen to these messages
because they like the messengers. Unfortunately, the underlying message
to kids--aside from the more obvious "buy this product"--is that eating
these products can make them a celebrity or athlete, or at least will
make them look and perform like one. And even if that doesn't happen,
they still feel that the products are worthwhile since they're
popular among the people they look up to and respect.
Saturday Morning Commercials
Saturday morning cartoons are a tradition for many children. Not
surprisingly, junk food marketers have claimed their space among the
cartoons--90 percent of food commercials aired on Saturday morning
kids' TV shows are for products of low nutritional value such as sugary
cereals, candy and fast food.
As though placing the ads among children's cartoons is not enough,
many of the junk foods will even feature a cartoon character or cartoon
theme as part of their packaging and promotional angle.
By the time you head to the grocery store that afternoon, your
child's mind will be thoroughly saturated with junk food items to
persuade you to buy. Of course this is the time when you as the parent
can be strong and only buy foods that you will feel good about your
School Vending Machines
You may send your child to school with a healthy lunch in hand, but
your efforts may soon be sabotaged by junk food marketers where you
least expect them--in your child's school. Most school hallways are
lined with vending machines that sell soft drinks and unhealthy snacks,
and most school cafeterias serve any number of fast foods each day.
It's not uncommon for schools to make marketing deals with leading
soft drink companies such as Coca-Cola from which they receive
commissions--based on a percentage of sales at each school--and
sometimes a lump-sum payment.
The revenues are used for various academic and after-school activities,
but what activity could be worth devastating the students' health,
which is exactly what consuming all that soda and junk food is doing?
Getting rid of vending machines in schools--or replacing their contents
with pure water and healthy snacks--could make a big difference, as
vending machines can increase the consumption of sweetened beverages by
up to 50 or more cans of soda per student per year.
More and more children have access to the Internet, which means that
marketers have gained another avenue to market their products. Almost
every major junk food, from snacks to candy to soft drinks, has its own
promotional Web site. The sites typically cater to children and
teenagers and are filled with interactive games featuring the product,
giveaways, contests and other information about the product.
Kids are likely to be drawn in by the games and are subtly inundated
with images of a particular junk food or junk food brand. Although they
may think they are simply playing a game, the games typically have a
junk-food theme that exposes them to nutritionally devoid products even
during their time off.
Although you can't realistically shelter your child from every
advertisement out there, you can sit down with them and discuss the ads
you do see. Explain to them that a business is selling the product and
that they need to think about all aspects of the item (nutritional
value, price, etc.) and not rely solely on the ad to make their
decision. And, make sure that you are a good role model for you child.
If you eat a lot of junk food, you'll have a hard time convincing
your child that they shouldn't eat it.