Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stay Away From Our Children!

"Saying that junk food is marketed to children is a little like announcing the sky is blue or that water is wet: it’s so obvious that talking about it feels almost redundant. But the obviousness of the situation is just symptomatic of the fact that we’ve all grown so accustomed to our kids being targeted by the producers of junk food that we’re sadly unsurprised by it. It happens so much that it starts to become background noise. The first step in cutting out that noise, though, is to become aware of the ways that marketers use a variety of ploys and tactics to get at children, who lack the education and discernment abilities to make smart and informed choices about the ads they see. Kids’ brains are, in a sense, helpless against the onslaught of marketing. Check out this list of advertising approaches to children so you’ll be better prepared to help your kids make the right choice about what they eat."

"Marketers want kids to eat junk food by viewing the process as an exciting experience. They’re not just loading up on sugar, they’re doing it with attitude and an anti-authority flare (You know, like Poochie). Kids probably won’t eat yogurt of their own volition, but they will eat yogurt they can squeeze into their mouths like toothpaste from a tube. The same goes for cereals, which are loaded with sugar and food coloring. Products like Froot Loops use bright, eye-catching colors adorned with cartoon characters designed to attract a child’s eye. Cereal boxes for adult products look almost austere in comparison. Marketing is always superficial, but it’s egregiously so when it comes to packaging aimed at children."

"Marketers also know that children spend most of their time under the guidance of parents or guardians, and that they only get a few minutes to themselves when they’re at school. That’s why junk food companies push for placement in vending machines in schools nationwide, where kids can buy their treats without a parent around to make them trade the SweetTarts for an apple. This tactic as much admits that the food being sold is no good — why else would they try to sneak it past parents? — but it’s still a big obstacle for families who want their children to eat healthy. This issue’s also a political hot-button, with some officials declaring that schools should ditch junk-food vending machines altogether while others say that’s too much of an overreach."


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