Marketing, Motherhood, and Mayhem

Teach Healthy Choices

November 10th, 2010 by Deb McLean

I just read an article in Ad Age that addresses a study released this week by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.  The study charges that fast-food companies are marketing to youth now more than ever.  The study claims that fast-food companies are increasingly targeting children as young as 2 years old, using various media, and rarely offering healthy meal choices, despite the abundance of advertising about them.

The study said that the fast-food industry spent more than $4.2 billion on marketing and advertising in 2009, according to Nielsen Co., focusing extensively on TV, the internet, social-media sites and mobile applications.

The Fast-Food industry has been very vocal in the last few years about making an effort to provide healthy choices and improving their marketing practices, although this study looks like the industry is in fact stepping up their efforts to target kids.  Jennifer L. Harris from the Rudd Center stated, “Today, preschoolers see 21% more fast-food ads on TV than they saw in 2003, and somewhat older children see 34% more.”

My position is that we can’t put all this blame on the Fast-Food industry.  These kids don’t drive themselves.  It’s up to us as parents to limit what our children put in their bodies and motivate them to make healthy choices.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s times when the only way Casey is going to be fed is to fly through Mickey-D’s on our way to practice or an event.  It’s just not nearly as often as when she was young because she’s making healthier choices.  Fast-food is integrated in our culture, but so was cigarette smoking in the 60’s.  And today, in most areas of the country, a “smoker” feels very much a minority.  It’s our responsibility as parents to teach them to make better choices.

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