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Fit or Fat?

By: Jocelyn Li

As technology is becoming a larger part of children’s lives, they are exposed to more and more advertisements from fast food companies. A study shows that “obesity has more than doubled among children ages 2 to 5 (5.0% to 12.4%) and ages 6 to 11 (6.5% to 17.0%). In teens ages 12 to 19, obesity rates have tripled (5.0% to 17.6%)”. Food advertising is one of the leading causes of childhood obesity, affecting young children that do not yet understand the harm of most fast foods. Food companies have been marketing by showering children with advertisements about everywhere they go – on television and in schools as well.

Watching television is a daily necessity to many kids in the United States, and companies have used this knowledge to promote more of their products on the television, attracting kids who are constantly in front of the screen. Children around the age of 8-12 have the highest rates of television advertising exposure per day, known to be “entering a critical stage of development where they are establishing food habits, making more of their own food choices and have their own money to spend on the types of food they enjoy”. A common part of society today, fast foods are known by all to be increasingly delicious but at the same time, fatty and unhealthy. Although this is common sense to most adults, children are still unaware of the harm of these foods. The fast food companies use alluring and captivating advertisements to lure in children, bringing upon more child customers who willingly buy fast foods on a daily basis. The inexperienced decision making of children cause them to buy fast foods often, also raising the obesity rate in the US. Not only does watching television lure in kids, but schools as well are a huge contributor to children’s exposure to advertisements.

Considering how often children are at school, fast food companies have even begun targeting kids in their learning environment. An effective way to entice children, advertisements are “now appearing on school buses, in gymnasiums, on book covers, and even in bathroom stalls”. As staff and teachers of a school are highly respected, students tend to listen to them more, which increases the effectiveness of advertising. Cafeteria food is another great initiator of fast foods, with certain schools including soda and snacks in their menus. Companies are desperate enough to advertise their products, going so far as to paying $200,000 in order to have their merchandise shown on certain educational channels. Since these ads have made their way into even the educational part of a child’s life, it’s inevitable that a child will be somewhat attracted to these foods.

Fast food companies have found many different methods to allow advertisements to reach out to the child population, including the TV and school campuses. Advertisements are effective enough to attract child customers, which also leads to children who are driven to eat more and have a higher chance of becoming obese. Both the advertisements and the handling of money could and should be regulated by parents to prevent more children from purchasing unhealthy foods on their own accord.   

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