Another good reason to unplug your kids is to reduce the amount of marketing that they are exposed to. One more interesting story on NPR this morning (in addition to the children’s book recommendations that I posted about here) is entitled: Child Obesity Concerns Prompt Shift in Food Ads.
The story quoted some frightening statistics: 2 to 7 year-olds see an average of 12 food ads per day (approximately 4,400 ads per year) and 8 to 12 year-olds see an average of 21 food ads per day (approximately 7,600 per year). Of course most of these ads promote candy, junky snacks, fast food, soda, and sugary cereals. (Kaiser Family Foundation study: Food for Thought: Television Food Advertising to Children in the United States).
Much research has been done that establishes a link between childhood obesity and TV watching. The current thinking on this, is that it is not just the passive, sedentary nature of TV watching that contributes to obesity, but also the fact that the TV encourages children to want to consume the types of food that they see in the ads.
I am sure that this logic is debateable, however I would think that there would be very few parents who would object to a reduction in the marketing of unhealthy foods to their children, regardless of the reasoning behind that.
There is currently no legislation governing the marketing of food to children. The Center for Science in the Public Interest is a consumer advocacy group that is trying to convince food companies to stop marketing junk food to first graders. Apparently the FTC is also pressuring the major food manufacturers to limit their marketing of unhealthy food to kids.
Last fall, eleven food companies (including Kraft, Kellogg’s, Coke, and General Mills) agreed to voluntarily limit the marketing money they spend on unhealthy ads and use more of that money to promote healthier foods. I do not know if there is any proposed timetable for the change, and having no TV I can’t say if there is a noticeable change in the types of food ads kids see (cynical me suspects not).
The food companies are worried that if they don’t set some voluntary guidelines for themselves, there will certainly be legislative, or even court action. Such non-voluntary restrictions might be stricter than limits the companies could set voluntarily now.
Stay tuned. I imagine that we shall be hearing more about this in the coming months. In the meantime, consider ad-avoidance another HUGE benefit of unplugging your kids!
To hear this interesting story in full, click here.
Photo courtesy of morguefile.com and photographer ppdigital.