The issue of marketing unhealthy food alternatives to children is an situation that affects most families today. Controversy about this issue is being spurred on by the outbreak of obesity among children and young people in our country. In the United States each year, an estimated ten to fifteen billion dollars is spent marketing junk food and fast food to children. Much of these products that are advertised are the worst of the worst as far as food choice that children can make. Parents are relying more and more on fast food to feed their families each night due to our busy lifestyles. Children who’re viewing commercials for various food products are making an effect on their families food choice by vocalizing their wants as well. In today’s connected society commercialization extends beyond just television ads, children and young people are being assaulted from all angles with advertising for junk foods. Currently, there aren’t many laws relating to the books with regards to marketing towards children. However, as this problem is starting to garner attention from the media, the government is beginning to look into what needs to be done to protect future generations of children from being subjected to incessant advertising of unhealthy products.
What is junk food? This seems like a simple question. However, in reality it’s not. The basic definition of junk food is food that has few or no nutritional value. Looking further into it we learn that junk food is generally food that is high in fat, sugar, sodium, and other refined starches. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed the Food Guide Pyramid. This shows what proportion of foods humans need in their diet for a healthy lifestyle. (Facts on File 2002) Viewing the food guide pyramid, it is evident that fats and sugars aren’t supposed to be a large portion of a healthy diet. The very apex of the pyramid shows these products and it is found that they should be utilized sparingly. Much of the food that is sold in fast food outlets, contains large quantities of fat and salt and little to fruits, no vegetables, or whole grains. A typical meal served to children in a fast food restaurant contains a cheeseburger, french fries and a soda. At McDonald ‘s, for example, this meal would contain 640 calories, 24 grams of fat, 940 milligrams of sodium, and 7 grams of saturated fat. This is nearly half the fat content that a child should ingest in an entire day. The recommended daily sodium intake for children ages four to eight is 1200 milligrams, so ingesting 940 in one meal will cover more than 80 per cent of this. In addition to these poor nutrition stats, this meal doesn’t provide a very much in regards to vitamins or fiber. The overconsumption of foods such as these is an important contribution to the obesity epidemic in the United States.
Canned food is more fresh and has less grain content than dry food. But don’t feed a single type of food to your dog. Use canned food as a complement to a dry food diet.
Facts, Tips and Tricks!
Being overweight is the condition of being over ideal body weight and Obesity is the condition of being well over ideal body weight. The generally accepted definition of obesity is when someone has a body mass index (bmi) of 30 or higher. In 1997, Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said of obesity that it ‘has become the second major cause of preventable death in this country, resulting in 300, 000 lives lost each year. ‘ Obesity in the child is a growing problem. In just the short time between 2003 and 2007 childhood obesity rates grew from 14.8 percent to 16.4 Percent. (Dotinga 2010) This article also demonstrates the relationship between children from lower-income families being more susceptible towards becoming obese or overweight. The prevalence and relative low prices of fast food restaurants contribute towards their integration in the diet of low-income families. Children who’re obese are much more likely to be obese as adults. Being obese is a major cause of many serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, and cancer. In children especially, obesity is more than just a health problem. Bullying of overweight children is a major problem and can lead to children to grow up with low self-Esteem and poor social skills. Dr. Julie Lumeng, an assistant research scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor conducted a study in regards to the relationship between obesity and bullying. This study found that being overweight increased danger of being the target of bullying by 63 percent. Obesity is caused by many factors. However, the overconsumption of junk and fast food is a major contributing factor. In the next article in this instalment, we will look at how junk food marketing affects junk food consumption in children.