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Marketing Junk Food To Kids Is Evil

Marketing Junk Food To Kids Is Evil

One in three American children are either overweight or obese, which means that their lives will be shortened unless they lose weight. Corporations spend about $1.6 billion a year marketing food to children, and most of what is marketed, if not all, is junk food filled with sugar and salt.

In 2006, cereal companies spent $229 million to target children and teens, according to the report Cereal Facts by Food Advertising To Children and Teens Score (FACTS). The average two- to five-year-old viewed over 500 television ads for child cereals in 2008. As the report states, “These children have no cognitive abilities to defend against advertising messages; therefore, advertising to them is inherently unfair and potentially harmful given the nutritional quality of the products promoted.”

The report evaluated the nutritional content of 277 ready-to-eat (RTE) cereals from 13 companies in the U.S. and found that child cereals contain 85 percent more sugar, 65 percent less fiber and 60 percent more sodium than adult cereals, and 42 percent contain “potentially harmful artificial food dyes.”

The report makes some startling points about the cereal companies’ marketing to children: Not one cereal marketed to children in the U.S. would be allowed to advertise to children on television in the U.K., the report states. Only one cereal, Cascadian Farm Clifford Crunch, would be eligible to be included in cereals through the USDA Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

“Children are strongly influenced by the foods they see advertised on television and elsewhere,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.


A report by Berkeley Media Studies Group titled, Fighting Junk Food Marketing to Kids lists ways that communities can limit junk food being marketed to children. The suggestions include:

  • Ban products, such as sodas, on school grounds.
  • Impose product labeling requirements, such as requiring chain restaurants to provide nutrition info on their menus or menu boards.
  • Ask grocers to designate a “Candy-Free Check Out Aisle” to give parents an opportunity to dodge the “pester factor” in the checkout line.
  • Use the conditional use permit (CUP) process to put a moratorium on new fast food or junk food outlets in a community.
  • Ask retailers to put healthier items within eye’s sight of children and lower nutrient items on the higher shelves, or to arrange cereal boxes with the nutrition labels out rather than the cartoon-character-laden fronts out.
  • Ask after-school programs not to allow food and beverage marketers to provide activities or curricula to the program.


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Photo from choctruffle via flickr

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9:31AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Bisogna aiutare i ragazzi a mangiare e dare loro cose sane e non cibo spazzatura

9:31AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Bisogna aiutare i ragazzi a mangiare e dare loro cose sane e non cibo spazzatura

10:06AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

Many parents have been brainwashed into getting addicted to sugar and junk food when THEY were young. Cognitive dissonance allows them to justify it for their children. Look up the psychology of comfort foods as well as how sugar affects the brain.

Do the same people with the "blaming the companies" and "It's the parents fault" rhetoric support cigarette ads on TV, legalizing drugs or teaching about homosexuality in school?

Or would THAT be "sending the wrong message"?

4:43PM PDT on Sep 11, 2011

I love Toucan Sam :-(

8:54AM PDT on Jul 30, 2011

I rarely use the word, evil, because of its religious connotations. Private companies can advertise as they wish, but nowadays, profit is everything -- never too much profit. It is unethical for companies to try to sway children, when this country has an overwhelming obesity problem. And this goes for all advertising -- trying to get people to buy things they do not need, instead of making do or scrimping to save. There is an end-point to consumption, and America has reached it.

5:03PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011


3:53PM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Ahh, yet another "McDonalds made me fat" argument. It's always the business's fault for selling the product and not the fault of the people buying it. Why not exercise a little personal responsibility people?

2:49AM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

They wouldn't be pushing their products so much if the parents weren't giving in so much... Say no. And have a spine about it. It's worked with mine, and no, my 11 year old is NOT traumatized. There are other products that are better, and tasty. When you get them addicted to sugar, it's hard to get them OFF.

1:52PM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Yes, it is the primary responsibility of parents and also schools as to what is bought and served. The problem is that many of the foods that are better for all of us are more expensive. I hope for the day when these sugary foods are not bought, and organic and natural foods are within everyone's price range

9:40AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Wow so your blaming the companies again? Where are the parents in all of this? The parents should decide quit the blame game. It's the parents fault not the companies they are trying to make money like everyone else.

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