Excessive Advertising of Junk Food is Adding Fuel to the Obesity Epidemic
I distinctly remember watching Fruit by the Foot commercials as a child. Not just what the commercial showed, but the feelings it evoked in me. In the commercial, the boy unwrapped the snack with a look of excitement on his face. He unrolled it and started rolling it up and down, as if it was a yo yo. Then it was utilized as a jumprope. The boy danced around, using the snack as a prop. He flung it up and down and all around him, his smile staying the whole time. Finally, he took a big bite of the Fruit by the Foot, and grinned even wider. As a seven year old, I looked on in wonder. To me, that snack looked like the most fun invention to ever hit the grocery store. My mouth would begin to water and I would start to crave a sugary treat of my own. I wished my mom would buy Fruit by the Foot so I could have fun, too. Little did I know, the company that made Fruit by the Foot designed that commercial for that exact reason; so kids would want their product and ask their parents for it. In their ever-present ads, junk food companies use underhanded tactics to convince easily swayed children into wanting their products; the more ads they see for junk, the more likely they are to form early food preferences for this junk food and become obese.
In this day and age, kids spend more time in front of a screen than ever before. In fact, kids on average spend more time in front of the computer, watching television, or playing video games than any other activity in their life besides sleeping (“The Impact of”). It’s no secret that kids love to watch television movies, but now they’re being allowed to watch more and more. On average, this screen time adds up to about 44.5 hours a week (“The Impact of”). Even toddlers are spending more time with electronics, 66% of them logging two hours per day (“How TV”). This time accumulates when they’re parents set them down in their playpen or bouncy and chair park it right in front of a television. With increased screen time comes increased exposure to advertisements. The average child sees about 40,000 advertisements per year on television alone (“Television Advertising”). That’s over 100 per day. Half of all of these ads directed towards children are food (“The Impact of”). That means that those toddlers are seeing countless ads for snacks that they can’t even eat yet.
Unfortunately, these ads are usually detrimental. Almost ¾ of all food advertised to children is considered to be unhealthy (“The Impact of”). There are next to no advertisements for foods such as fruits or vegetables, but there is an overflowing abundance for junk food ads. These ads subliminally influence the children to eat those unhealthy foods. In a study by Jean Weicha, PhD, it was shown that an an hour of television causes 7th and 8th graders to consume about 167 more calories a day (qtd. in“Direct Link”). In addition, it was found that the children who watched the most tv...