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Childhood Obesity: Fast Food Companies Are To Blame

961 words - 4 pages

Since the fast food industry is targeting America’s youth, providing healthier options on children’s menus will reduce the rate of childhood obesity and allow for a healthy future.
According to “Burger Battles” from the Weekly Reader, obesity is defined as a person whose weight is 20 percent higher than recommended for their height (Burger Battles 1). When this condition begins to affect children lives, it is then known as childhood obesity. Within the United States of America, around 15 percent of children are considered to be obese (Holguin 3). Increasing tremendously, this outbreak has actually tripled in the amount of obese teen and doubled in children up to the age of thirteen (Burger Battles 2). One of the factors that is usually overlooked in the cause for obesity is the role of television. Not only does it reduce the amount of physical activity, the advertisements and commercials are targeting innocent viewers. In a survey completed by Gary Ruskin of Commercial Alert, the average child watches nearly 19 hours and 40 minutes of television a week (Ruskin 2). With that amount of time spent watching television, advertisements for fast food will be entering the children’s minds.
Commercials make the viewer think about the product being advertised. Because of the amount of television children watch throughout the week, it allows the children to be exposed to the information over and over again. Per year, children are known to view thousands of fast food commercials. On a daily basis, a teen will usually view five advertisements and a child aged six to eleven will see around four advertisements (Burger Battles 4). Businesses use this strategy to “speak directly to children” (Ruskin 3). Although the big businesses in the fast food industry are getting their points across with the commercials, it does not come cheap. Billions of dollars are being spent on advertisements targeting children every year (Holguin 4). The two biggest companies are ironically the two largest spenders for ads. Burger King and McDonalds spent a reported 800 billion dollars in the year 2009 (Burger Battles 4). Some of that money is spent in other ways rather than just commercials. Product placement is a large part of companies’ marketing strategy. The idea of giving away toys with the purchase of a meal has been extremely successful. Happy Meals have been favorites among children due to the toys placed within the bag. Winnie the Pooh, Finding Nemo, and Beanie Babies have all been used as characters in Happy Meals to help inflate sales (Ruskin 2). Children then consume the unhealthy food that comes along with their new trinket. However, companies have recently agreed to promote healthier choices in at least half of all their advertisements (Burger Battles 2).
Consuming unhealthy fast food has changed the dietary habits of many people. Fats, sugars, and carbohydrates are eaten more often in fast food consumers (Holguin 1). The change is due...

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