Thursday, July 19, 2007
Ad giants vow to curb marketing to kids
As a vegetarian and the parent of a 10-year-old, I have tried to be very conscious of what my daughter eats. She started out as a vegetarian too, but by the time she was 7, the lure of burgers via fast food joints proved too much for her--especially when friends and classmates were reveling in their trips to McDonalds and Burger King. Needless to say it broke my heart.

As a journalist who covers medical issues I'm very aware of the fact that childhood obesity has reached near epidemic proportions in this country. Today, at least one in five children are overweight. And overweight kids tend to become overweight adults putting them at higher risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Not to mention type 2 diabetes, a disease that used to only occur in adults! According to the National Institutes of Health, if today's overweight kids become tomorrow's overweight adults, a staggering 50 million Americans could have diabetes by the year 2050.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites a study that found about 80 percent of kids who were overweight at ages 10-15 were obese by the time they were 25. Who can ignore a statistic like that? Apparently not the Department of Health and Human Services or the Federal Trade Commission. Two years ago they challenged companies to change the way they advertise food and beverages to children. Eleven companies including Kellogg's, Kraft, General Mills, McDonalds, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have now responded, most of them pledging to advertise only foods that meet specific nutrition criteria to children under 12. And many won't advertise at all to kids under 6. (Full Story)

Disney and Sesame Street have also jumped on board promising to incorporate healthy messages into their programming--and in Disney's case, into the food offerings at their parks. This "self-regulation" is all voluntary of course.

I've witnessed firsthand the advertising onslaught in children's programming. I've been through the "Mommy can you buy that for me?" stage -- and it was usually some sugary sweet treat, cereal or drink! There had been many requests for character driven products including SpongeBob, Clifford and Blues Clues snacks. So I welcome these measures with open arms. But in the end, I know that childhood obesity usually happens because kids eat too much and don't exercise enough. So as a parent, I can't afford to abdicate my role in all this and rely solely on these companies for my daughter's health and well-being. I have to make the proper choices. These companies have made a start, but will it make a difference? Are parents doing enough?
I admire your healthy approach to living! I also raised my children vegetarian. It stuck, but not without other kids making their lives miserable because of it!
It is deplorable and ridiculous that most of the people in the world do not have the proper diet or go hungry. And it also ridiculous and deplorable that one of the hugest problems we face in THIS country is the risk of obesity!!! How sickening and disgusting that we can claim gorging ourselves with crap as a national problem! This is an outrage!
Thank you so much for bringing this PROBLEM to the forefront. Let's keep it there until this UNNECESSARY problem goes away!
More veggies please~
Saundra, I'm a vegetarian too (this is Dr. Gupta's fault, since I converted after reading his book) and I'd agree that most kids can't figure out how to eat properly. And... neither can most adults.

Will it make a difference with the advertising changes? I don't think so, because now they're touting how their product is enriched with vitamins and minerals, to give people the false sense that those Sugar Blasted Death By Chocolate Puffs are now okay to eat because they're healthy!!

Parents aren't doing enough. Nope. They're not getting off the couch themselves most time and getting proper diet and exercise. Children emulate what they see, and will grow up to be little miniature versions of their parents... or supersize versions.
Hello ,
I am not a vegitarian, but i do eat very healthy.
I truly beieve there are several factors involved in the obesity of children and adults.
Aside from the major "not enough excercise" piont of view , there is also the issue of processed foods. There are far too many food additives in the American diet in my opinion. I also believe that whether or not one is a vegiarian, families can cicumvent the convienience of processed foods with a little bit of planning and education.
I am glad that fast food companies are beginning to have some sort of consciousness on this issue, but I think it is a long walk for most parents who sucumb to the time saving convenience of pre made packaged processed foods most of which have additives in it that can potentially be harmful to health when consumed on a regular basis...
My firend had an idea, for older kids... make a project and have them look up all the ingredients of food they want to eat , and research the additives.
Several children may change their mind all on thier own.
I just want to point out that being a vegetarian does not mean that you don't eat junk food. There's tons of plant-based garbage on the grocery store shelves.

Neither does not being a vegetarian mean that you don't eat healthfully.
When it comes to Child Obesity, it is one word, TV. TV is the main culprit. Many kids sit and watch TV for too long. Also they get bombarded by so many commercials.

We do not have TV (cable) at our house and it helps a lot, because we see some of our daughters friends with lots of cavities, problems rising from eating lots of chips etc.

I am not sure though as to how long we can stay being normal. We will at some time be forced to be like others.
It doesn't matter what ad's kids see on TV - it's up to the parents to say "NO! It's not good for you!" My 2 year old twins ask for candy and junk food and already at that age I tell them that it is bad for their tummy. My older kids ask for sweetend cereal and chocolate bars but again I tell them no. I am their parent and it is up to parents to make wise decisions for their kids. I think deep down all adults know that fruit and veggies make healthy snacks but are too lazy to wash and cut them for their kids and/or are too picky themselves!
America can not blame obesity on "fast food resturants", advertisements, etc. Children only eat what is bought for them. If parents would provide balanced meals for their chiildren we would not have this problem. Most children are offered cold cereal, pastries, etc for breakfast, all out of a box!! Lunch? Children should be required to eat the balanced lunches the cafeteria at school provides, instead of offering them an alternative lunch line or sending a lunch from home. Then at dinner / supper have a family, sit-down meal, that was prepared at home in the KITCHEN.... Hey, this will work!! Parents of today are instantly ready to shuck their duties and blame someone or something else.
Parents are producing couch potatoes!!! Children will sit and watch TV or play games, etc. if parents allow it! They are children. Come on parents! You can not blame anyone except yourselves.
I think childhood obesity is due to several factors: food, TV and video games are biggies but when I was 10 years old I would walk and ride my bike to my friends' houses all by myself but nowadays I am not about to allow my kids to be out of my sight by themselves it is too dangerous and we live in what I feel is a normally safe neighborhood. Also the amount of homework that is given is ridiculus. It is hard to get it all done and get out and play.
I think raising kids to eat healthy, well balanced diets is more important than whether or not they eat meat. It is possible to have a well balanced vegetarian diet, but it's much harder. For growing kids, protein is more important than a strict diet regime.
Hi Saundra,

Childhood obesity has reached almost epidemic proportions. When my son is watching TV I try to monitor what he is watching and am amazed at the onslaught of marketing that is thrown at him.

I am glad to hear Disney and Sesame Street are promising more healthy messages. As parents however, we need to provide positive role models to our kids, get them off the couch and get them moving and having fun. After a long day at work it can be hard, I know, and many times I am guilty of coming home and just vegging out in front of the TV, but childhood obesity and other problems parents are facing today is best overcome by connecting and spending more quality time with our kids and engaging with them in fun activities.
>Neither does not being a vegetarian mean that you don't eat healthfully.<

Actually that is exactly what it means, as animal protein in general is toxic to the human body. Ingesting animal parts and fluids FORCES your body to focus on breaking down that toxic protein first and foremost, which then gives a green light for free radicals to travel freely throughout looking for weak cells on which to attach. When you ingest only plant proteins your body is always on full free radical alert and not only halts them in their tracks but can actually, in amny instances, reverse the damage that previous free radical activity had begun to cause. This is not just factory farm meat that we are talking about, this is animal protein in general, whether it's called organic, free range, grass fed, raw or whatever. It's still toxic animal protein. The people who want you to believe in the good/bad meat myth are most interested in you buying their products, not the health of you or your family.
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