Children are ‘soft targets’. Advertisements targeting kids usually are of products they have an inherent interest in. For example ads for cookies, chocolates, health drinks and toys almost always portray kids. Children are also highly impressionable. It is easy to convince them that a certain brand of cookies or chocolates is better than similar products from another brand. It is also easy to convince them that using a certain product is ‘cool’.
Children are too young to decide what is good or bad for them. Take for instance, the ads for instant noodles and potato chips: they are now being marketed as health foods. The target audience of these ads is mostly kids. Advertisements, too, portray kids gorging on them. These ads give the impression that consuming junk foods on a regular basis is perfectly OK when, in fact, it has serious impact on health. There are also ads that promote unhealthy rivalry between kids.
Although there is a substantial scientific evidence demonstrating the link between duration of TV viewing and children as well as TV viewing behaviour and future adiposity,18,32 fewer studies have shown a direct association between exposure to TV advertisement and obesity. Studies have also found a link between fast food restaurant advertising and body mass index,33 indicating that if fast food advertising was banned, it would reduce the number of overweight 3 to 11 year old children by 18%.33 Given the challenges involved in directly assessing the effect of advertising on obesity, simulation studies have been conducted. According to these studies, in the absence of TV advertising for food, the rate of overweight and obesity for 6 to 12 year old children would have been reduced by about 25% and 40%, respectively.34,35
Several experimental studies have demonstrated the effect of TV food advertising on increasing food intake.4,15,24,25 In a recent experiment, elementary school-aged children who saw unhealthy food advertising while watching a children’s cartoon program consumed 45% more snacks than the group of children who watched the program with non-food advertising.4 Conversely, children’s attitudes and beliefs toward healthy foods were positively impacted by advertisements of healthy foods, but these positive effects were reduced when advertisements of unhealthy foods were shown alongside healthy foods.8
Family communication and media education is an important component in mediating the negative effects of advertising on children’s dietary behaviours. Although limited research exists in this area, the findings indicate that parental communication about advertising and setting rules about food consumption was more successful in reducing energy-dense food consumption by their children than open discussion about consumption.36 However it was more effective when parents imposed restrictions of advertising exposure to pre-school and early elementary school children than to older children.36
The U.S. has a few regulations regarding TV food and beverage advertising to children, including industry self-regulatory policies. However, federal agencies have limited power to regulate against unfair and deceptive advertising practices to children.37 In 2006, in partnership with the Council of Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), a coalition of food companies pledged to improve the nutritional quality of foods advertised to children under the age of 12 years.38 Also, the IOM committee has offered 10 recommendations to address activities by the food industry and public sector to support a healthful diet to children and adolescents.6 A review evaluating the progress made by industry stakeholders in marketing healthful foods to children revealed that food and beverage companies made some progress in promoting healthier products, but that limited progress was made by restaurants, industry trade associations and the media.38 Despite the reported progress, overall TV food advertising to young children has increased by 9% between 2008 and 2010.39 In addition, more than a quarter of all food/beverage advertising to children is from companies that do not participate in the coalition, including the majority of fast food establishments.38,40
Recent cross-sectional studies with young children have shown that exposure to food advertising was associated with increased consumption of advertised brands, energy-dense foods, soda and fast food,20,21 but overall food consumption was only related to television viewing and not to advertising exposure in some studies.20 There are few prospective studies supporting the negative impact of TV viewing on dietary behaviours; an increase of 167 kcal/day was found per each hour of increase in TV viewing among 11 year old children.22 The only study with older adolescents found that those who were heavy TV viewers during high school had less healthful eating habits during the transition to young adulthood.23
While progress has been made in assessing the degree of exposure and content of TV advertisement to children and adolescents, more research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms involved in the exposure of TV advertisement and dietary choices of children. Also, there are research gaps on the effect of healthy food/beverage advertisement on the consumption of these foods. A benefit to policy initiatives will be to understand whether increased exposure to healthy food advertisement would cause a shift in children’s consumption and preference for healthy foods and beverages. Family plays an important role, especially during the formative years, in modeling behaviour and enforcing rules and restrictions. Therefore, more research is needed to unveil the effects of parental communication styles relative to consumer-related issues on children’s food choices. In addition, targeting parents to increase awareness about the food industry’s marketing practices is needed.41 The effectiveness of the food industry’s self regulation initiative has yet to be established, therefore, further studies are essential to evaluate the advertising activities of the participating companies.
i have a question or you can say confusion specifically related to this model essay. you see question asked about how far you agree with the topic, in my opinion before reading the model answer most of us including me would have chosen a side either agree or disagree. but now my question is you’re partially supporting that’s individual benefits at the same time you’re also talking about negative impacts on society. so in this situation i’m not sure how to do this agree and disagree for the same topic… could we have gone the other way around like conventional way of choosing one side?
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Despite the industry’s positive actions to promote healthy lifestyles to children, companies continue to fail to protect children and adolescents from advertising unhealthy products as close to 69% of all advertising by companies participating in the coalition was for poor nutritional quality.40 The food/beverage industry’s self-regulation addresses the health needs of children ages 12 and younger leaving a large population of youth who have greater purchasing power and more autonomy to make food choices. Policies for nutrition and marketing standards should be implemented and enforced by federal, state and local governments in order to achieve uniform protection of the diets and health of children and youth.