Adverts and Childhood Obesity
I consider childhood obesity a major challenge facing the United States. Health activists blame exposure to misleading adverts as a main factor contributing to poor health in children. Concrete data from study and surveys highlights that children spend excessive time watching television, surfing the web or playing online games. Food and beverage companies utilize the platforms to assail the children with attractive but misleading food information. Children are easily persuaded enabling the food companies to increase purchases of foods with poor nutritional value by children, leading to obesity. Childhood obesity is a direct result of children exposure to misleading adverts promoting foods and beverages of low or no nutrition value by the food companies.
Children spend excessive time watching television, surfing and gaming online, that is exposing them to misleading health information from the rogue food companies. I have found out that food and beverage companies utilize these platforms to manipulate unsuspecting children. Some advertised food and beverages have poor nutritional composition, including sugar, salts, fats and preservatives. Children spend between three and seven hours daily watching television or online, exposing themselves to billions of offensive food adverts daily. The total amount of time spent by children on the television or online equals to forty hours per week and more than two thousand hours annually. Needless time spent on these platforms contributes to childhood obesity in several ways. Children tend to choose advertised unhealthy foods such as fast foods and snacks. They also tend to overeat as they spend much time clung to the screen. Excessive time on television and internet makes children less active physically, as opposed to walks or sports. The combination of poor nutrition and less or no physical activity directly leads to the development of obesity. Health professionals advise that physical activity is important for children, contributing to their growth. Physical activities protect children from lifestyle diseases and ensure healthy brain development (Chris).
I believe that the rate of exposure of children to misleading advertisements by profit-obsessed organizations is barbaric and unethical. The University of Chicago survey found that vulnerability of children to adverts promoting unhealthy food has doubled in the last decades. The survey also proves existent of a direct link between food adverts, targeting children, and increase in the rates of obesity in children. The research highlights that adverts covering unhealthy foods occupy 84% of the total time spent by children on television and internet. The adverts allocation rose to 98% during hours of showing programs specifically meant for children, such as cartoons (Chris).
The Journal of Pediatrics supports the claim, explaining that children are susceptible to hundreds of unhealthy food adverts they encounter daily. The continuous programming makes them more likely to consume the nutritionally poor products, leading to obesity. Food-producing organizations spend more than $2.1 billion dollars annually on adverts targeting children media platforms. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three children at the ages three to nine is obese. The organization also highlights that 20% of the total children population in the United States is obese and possibly suffering from a lifestyle complication such as diabetes or heart disease. The center calls for speedy handling of the situation estimating that obesity prevalence in children between two to five years has doubled from 5% to 11% in a decade. The percentage in children between the ages of six to eleven years grew from 6.55% to more than 17% in the last decade. The rate more than tripled in teens standing at 18% (American Psychological Association).
The center warns guardians against giving excessive media time to children quoting that children spend more than forty hours weekly consuming diverse media content mainly unhealthy adverts. The misleading adverts influence the food choice by children, making them buy or influence their parents to purchase foods of low nutritional value. Children at the age of two to eleven years fail to identify the manipulative and persuasive nature of the adverts. Therefore, children become easy preys to attractive adverts and consume an unhealthy product. Experts legally argue that assailing children with hundreds of misleading food adverts programs them to make continuous harmful choices leading to obesity. Adverts promoting unhealthy foods exploit the innocence of children, consuming media content and making the responsible organizations legally and morally guilty of promoting childhood obesity (American Psychological Association).
I consider promoting unhealthy food products to children by food and beverage companies a manipulative marketing tactic, unethical in business environment. The offense also warrants strict control over adverts produced by food companies and allied advertising firms. I believe that parents have the power to ensure that their children are not victims of misleading food adverts by greedy and irresponsible firms. Parents should limit the time children spend online, gaming and watching television, and reduce their exposure to misleading food adverts. Limiting the time spent on consuming media content will also ensure that children participate more in physical activities. Physical activities and less exposure to misleading adverts will decrease the prevalence of obesity in children. Parents can also control the type of media accessed by their children, banning all the programs, games and sites which advertise products with low nutritional value. Parents can strictly purchase healthy products and monitor their children to secure that they only consume high nutritional products, effectively fighting childhood obesity. I believe that law enforcement agencies also have legal and moral obligation to ban adverts which promote unhealthy food products.
In conclusion, adverts targeting children and promoting low nutrition and unhealthy food products contribute significantly to childhood obesity. It is unethical for food and beverage companies to prey on children consuming behavior in order to make extra profits of unhealthy foods sales. I hold a view that parents can prevent or control childhood obesity by monitoring media and products consumed by their children. Moreover, law enforcement agencies should ban, arrest and prosecute food and beverage firms promoting unhealthy food products to children.
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