In her article entitled “The One-Two Punch: Big Food Gets Kids Hooked Early and Often,” Kristin Wartman discusses the childhood obesity crisis in America. She then outlines how big food companies contribute to this crisis, specifically by marketing junk food to children. Finally, she calls for regulation on packaging labels and advertising, pointing to European countries such as France and Sweden as examples of progress.
At the Midwest Food Connection, we want our students to be smart shoppers and smart eaters! Whatever we as parents and educators can do to counteract the effects of big money advertising will help. We can talk about the advertising they see, give them information about unhealthy side effects of sweets and empty carbs, and–more than anything else–introduce our children over and over again to healthy eating habits and options. Our voices need not be drowned out by those who seek to earn profits off our children’s health.
Here is a link to the original article, and below are some highlights:
-“Over the past 15 years, the percentage of new cases of Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as adult-onset, has skyrocketed among children — from three to 50 percent.”
– “[The United States has] virtually no regulation for advertising food and drink and we require very little in the way of labeling.
– “Studies show that Big Food corporations aggressively market unhealthy foods to children and in some cases children exhibit “brand recognition” and brand loyalty before they can even speak. A forthcoming study in the journal Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, found that toddlers identify the golden arches for McDonald’s before they even know the letter M.”
– “Another recent study suggests that highly processed foods are addictive. Researchers in the journal Current Biology report that when they fed M&M candies to hungry rats, their levels of enkephalin (an opiod with similar effects to other drugs in this class) increased.”
– “The food industry is actively shaping the palates of our children. While the food industry insists that it only advertises to children “to influence brand preference,” a study published in the journal Appetite found that the industry works to “fundamentally change children’s taste palates to increase their liking of highly processed and less nutritious foods.”‘
– “European countries, which have lower rates of obesity and diet-related disease, provide some answers. In 2007, the French government ordered all food advertisements to carry warning labels urging consumers to stop snacking, exercise, and eat more fruits and vegetables. The warning label also reads, “Consuming these foods may be harmful to your health.” In Sweden and Norway, all food and beverage advertising to children is forbidden.”