Marketers, It’s Your Fault Kids Are Fat

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There are at least two sides to this and we’ll try to address them both. The Center for Digital Democracy is looking to the US government to regulate the marketing of unhealthy food to children online.

Simmer down a sec. I can see the vein in your head and you’ll give yourself a coronary. Let’s hear them out.

The CDD got together with American University to research the extent to which online marketing is contributing to childhood obesity and the health problems that come with it.

Neither of them liked the conclusion: food marketers are bombarding young people with encouragement to eat high-calorie, low nutrient foods all the time through every medium available – instant messaging, online gaming, avatars, etc.

This of course means the amoral world of marketing is making kids fat and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) needs to set rules for food messages aimed at kids.

On one side of the grocery aisle are kids screaming at their parents for Fruit Loops because bagels and yogurt just won’t do. They want Fruit Loops because Toucan Sam (or whoever the mascot is nowadays) told them they want it – that and sugar’s awesome.

So, from their standpoint (the parents with plugged-in kids throwing hissy-fits around every nutritious corner), that’s a problem – especially when Junior’s getting stuck in the tire swing.

(Oops, I forgot, kids don’t go outside anymore, the little pale-faced glowworms. That’s part of the problem with digital age, kids won’t risk the sun damage long enough to let the parents have some quality time…Do you really think four-leaf clovers are lucky for the kids? Nope, lucky for their parents who finally got the kids onto an impossible mission. You’re unlucky if they find one too soon.)

It’s easy to understand the parents’ frustration. It really is hard to tell those cute little monsters no. Let’s review how my Mom did it – because Lord knows what a beautiful, sweet child I was. Must have been terribly difficult to deny me of those little childhood pleasures.

But she found a way. And she found a way often. Eventually all it took was a look and a snap and I dropped that cookie right back in the jar. And I knew that if I didn’t drop the cookie back in the jar, then the snap would turn into a slap.

Some parents say that’s child abuse, but only the ones with fat kids.

So we’re at an impasse then, it seems. Parents are kinder and gentler these days. Childhood and adult obesity is an increasingly huge (pun intended) problem in the US. We don’t work on farms anymore; we work at desks and eat as if we’re still field hands. And all that tasty, cheap, low-quality food is always spinning in high definition around us.

But really? You really think the answer is regulating marketers trying to sell their products? It’s not like they’re selling rat poison. They’re selling junk food to soft parents. Should that be against the law? Kids don’t have any money, right?

Forget that for a minute, it’s an all-day sucker. Maybe, if we’re going to get the government involved in something, we should find a way to make healthy food cheaper. Little Debbie cakes are 35 cents each. Double cheeseburgers are $1.

Why do you think West Virginia’s one of the fattest states in the Union? Because healthy food cost three times as much. Hmmm. Grilled tilapia or Whopper Jr. for lunch? If you’re making $6 per hour, you’re picking the Whopper.

In Japan, fatty, sweet food is way more expensive than the opposite – though they’re adopting American ways more and more. But finding a fat person in Japan is like trying to find something at an American grocery store without high fructose corn syrup.

So, don’t you think that before we ask the government to pound the marketers into their places, we should look into other ways to address the problem? Granted, since pharmaceuticals were allowed to advertise on TV, the cost of prescription drugs has skyrocketed, which means regulation is sometimes necessary.

(Hint, hint – And instead of all this universal health care talk, while we’re on a tangent, why not instead put that tax money to paying the citizens’ insurance bill. That’s all the hospitals care about anyway.)
Instead of slapping the hands of the marketers, slap the hands of the kids reaching for the cookies. Instead of punishing a valid trade, provide encouragement and make it easier to eat healthy. Instead of pretending to be angry at the oil companies for price gouging so you’re constituents think you’re really working for them, how about a tax break at the pump?

Oh wait, now I’m really dreaming, aren’t I?







Marketers, It’s Your Fault Kids Are Fat
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