We all see thousands of advertising impressions every single year of our lives. Now almost from day one children are exposed to tv commercials, radio advertising, billboards, digital advertising on apps and websites such as youtube and so much more. We are an advertising submersed culture, like a submarine sinking deeper into advertising messages. Even for me, part of how I make my living is to include advertisements on my site. If I don’t include advertising with my content I would have a really hard time getting by.
Advertising is a part of life for the foreseeable future.Companies want to have more awareness around their product and get the word out about why consumers should choose to spend their hard earned dollars on their product. It’s a competitive game for brands to be cooler, faster, younger, you name it. Food advertising is no exception. In a recent film I watched yesterday called Fed Up the advertising food and beverages to children was part of the discussion and some very interesting facts interested me.
We don’t realize it but advertising in the form of television advertising really effects all of us. Kid’s as young as 2-3 years old have the capability to recognize a brand name. That’s young, and brands know this and want to capitalize on that by having their logo and “happiness” show in front of that child as many times as they can while they are still young. Brands use happy characters and attach popular kid cartoons to their food or drinks to rope kid’s even further. The kids want these foods or brands by simple association to their favorite cartoon. Whether it’s Ronald McDonald or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles it’s all a ploy to get your kid to eat more of their sugary, genetically modified, preserved and processed fake food… and it’s working.
In one study they took two groups of children and had them both watch cartoons while given snacks to eat. One group was shown cartoons without any food advertising while the other was shown cartoons with food advertising. The group that was given the food advertising ate a whopping 45% more snacks than the group that had snacks watching cartoons without the food advertising. In fact, children advertising is working so well that in a 2010 study it was found that children no longer snack once or twice a day, but a shocking four times a day! (By the way, when I say the word “whopping” do you think of the burger king whopper at all? See how well it works? even similar words remind you of any advertising related to it)
Kid’s are eating more in each snacking period and snacking more often throughout the day. No wonder childhood obesity and diabetes has become such a large epidemic. Snacks are mostly junk food, and to eat more junk food more often at higher concentrations only puts your child more at risk to be obese, have diabetes or even more life threatening problems.
They did this same experiment with adults as well and guess what happend? Adults consumed more food when exposed to tv advertising as well. We think that tv commercials and advertising of any kind doesn’t effect us at all anymore because we are conscious (and super aware) adults now but are we right? All stimuli has some effect on our mind and the more we are exposed to advertising and specifically junk food advertising the more likely we are to eat more junk food.
What’s more interesting is that now the food industry advertising executives know this and are preying on young minds, your children are being targeted. The industry knows that they make more money marketing to young children because they get them hooked on their product earlier to consume more from a younger age and when they get older they are more accepting of their brand. Soda companies, snack companies and fast food companies are using this tool to covertly influence your child to think it’s normal food and drinking habits to consume their junk.
We can ask the food industry to stop advertising to our children but will that actually happen? I doubt it. What we can do though is turn the tv off more often, go outside and play, simply opt-out of the advertising system. Even just muting commercials so your child cannot hear the SUPER EXCITING kid about to scarf down a bag of cheetos with his super gulp coke is a good idea. Take away the stimuli and let your kids live healthy, wild and free… Just like you are! Start censoring advertising to your children in any way that you can because it does effect them. It may not effect you so much because maybe you have been eating healthier or more conscious for a while now but your children have young moldable minds. Don’t let the food industry that puts profits far ahead of health have any say in how or what they eat.
I have a friend who is a full grown adult that still blames her parents for her obesity. This friend claims that they were fed too much as a child and that is why they are obese today. Do I agree with the victim mentality? Not at all. You have 100% choice and control over the quality of the food that you eat today. At the same time you as a parent have a very important role and responsibility to understand what is healthy and what isn’t, and to protect your children from becoming addicted to junk food because as one study with rats suggest, sugar is more addicting than cocaine. If your kids scream, cry, yell or whine when they don’t get sugar I highly recommend to begin weaning them off it. It will be one of the best choices you’ve ever made as a parent for the health and happiness of your children when they are young and till they grow up.
Keep in mind that soda, candy or ice cream doesn’t make your child happy. I think that this is a common misconception. Many parents feed or give their children what they want (which is sugar and junk food 99% of the time) because they feel it makes their child happy. Their child tells them that they like the taste, they smile etc. This is not what ultimately makes your child happy though. Agree with me or not you’re actually placing your child’s happiness and dependance on a large food company that processes food that sets your child up to be obese, diabetic and have potential life threatening diseases down the road. Your child will be happy based on how you treat them, if you love your children then spend time with them, invest time and education into them and if they want something sweet or salty make it homemade and fresh with stevia and/or himalayan salt as alternatives to sugar and regular salty snacks. Health comes before happiness because if you are happy just for today then those non-sustainable actions will cause you to feel horrible and depressed tomorrow. I believe as a parent your job is to make sure your child is healthy and has good choices for food consumption and to invest into their minds to make them happy, not to let a food manufacturer hijack their biochemistry and be okay with it.