Is America Raising Junk Food Junkies?
Is your child addicted to cereal and junk food…commercials? They’re peppered throughout children’s programming these days. According to statistics from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, childhood breakfast favorites like Cocoa Puffs, Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch have some of the most aggressive marketing tactics to lure kids from their eye-catching, crispy, crunchy commercials right into their tummies.
In a 2009 article “Sweet Spot,” Time Magazine reported on how the least healthy cereals–Cinnamon Toast Crunch was voted least healthy with the most TV ads, for the record–do the most marketing. The Yale Rudd findings also show that each year, preschoolers (ages 2 to 5) see an average of 507 cereal ads that are designed to appeal to kids.
To be honest, I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. I tried my best to keep my daughter away from the madness. Once upon a time, the cereal advertising was reserved for Saturday morning cartoon hours. Today, the commercials run all day long, thanks to child-geared cable channels. Some of the commercials feature so many distractions—goofy characters, hip-hop flavored jingles, and enough special effects to rival a Hollywood film—that it’s hard to even figure out what the commercials are about.
But it seems the kids—and their consumer parents, obviously—are getting the message that the products are pushing: buy me. About a third of children in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese, and researchers believe television advertising is a significant contributing factor.
My four-year-old is growing up on the cereals I currently eat, the very un-kid-marketed Raisin Bran and Cheerios. Her first taste of a sugary cereal though was prompted by a little red apple character, Jack, I guess is his name. While shopping one day in the grocery store, she immediately recognized the green box with the bold letters Apple Jacks. For her, it was love at first bite. But there are rules, one bowl, twice a week.
The latest news is that the federal government preparing to impose strict new standards on the U.S. food industry and how it markets junk food to kids. With childhood obesity at an all-time high, is it too little, too late?
Did you know that in the U.K. junk food can’t be marketed on children’s television?
Is it the responsibility of the food industry to restrict ads or is it the parents fault for buying the food at all?