3.23.2015

Food Issues Book Club: Appetite for Profit, Chapter 11

Hello all!  Welcome to the NOiG Food Issues Book Club, wherein I read books about food stuff, summarize each book by chapter, and then attempt to apply that book chapter's ideas to the New Orleans food environment and my own experiences.  Fun right?!  Check out previous installations here.  I'd love it if you'd read along and join in!  And now, without further ado...

Appetite for Profit, Chapter 11:
Regulating Junk Food Marketing to Children

Summary:

The marketing of foods to children is an emotional, hot-button topic - particularly when it comes to junk food.  In 2005, the Institute of Medicine showed that the marketing of low nutrition foods promotes a preference for such foods among kids.  While correlation is not causation, it found that "the statistical association between ad viewing and obesity is strong."  In short, this advertising is bad for children's health.

Government regulation efforts have been ineffective in limiting kids' exposure to junk food advertising.  Industry's favorite tactic is to cry "First Amendment" at any such proposal.  This is despite the fact that "commercial speech" - the category into which corporate advertising falls - can be limited in light of "a pressing social interest" per the Supreme Court.  But food companies don't let reality get in the way of "a convenient excuse that covers up a self-serving desire to maintain the status quo."

Industry's next tactic is to market its healthier foods to kids - the troubles being that a) they are still marketing directly to children, who have a limited capacity to make good choices and most often rely on parents to buy desired products; and b) the foods aren't actually healthy, only nutriwashed.  "How can we begin to discuss eating the right food unless and until we talk about controlling an industry that spends billions of dollars a year trying to get children to eat the wrong food?"

It's been suggested that the government should increase spending on promotion of healthful foods and eating habits, but the reality is that no government agency can match the advertising budgets of the food industry.  Bans on advertising aimed at children have proven effective in other countries.  We must implement policies that prevent the exploitation of our children.

Discussion:

I feel like this chapter should have been placed before the chapter on food in schools.  Ah well.  Anyway, is there still junk food being marketed to kids?  What ever are they talking about?  It's not as if it's ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE.  It's not as if experts have explained time and time again that such marketing is detrimental.

At least TV ads aren't quite this obviously aimed at kids anymore, like they were when I was a kid...



...right?




For more info about food advertising to kids, check out this report released by PCRM - featuring New Orleans pediatrician Leslie Brown!

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