Fast-food companies deliberately targeting children
Fast-food companies deliberately targeting children
- Fast food at school
- Advertisement of fast food products
- Government involvement
Fast food companies deliberately targeting children
It is obvious that the existing fast-food companies and other retail sellers are directly targeting children. In any society, children are known to consume fast-food products in large quantities; consequently, it has made the producers of such foods view them as an easy target. It is worth mentioning that in an attempt to maximize on sales these companies have designed commercials that readily catch the attention of the children. Similarly, the foods sold in food courts adjacent to schools have been found to be of poor nutritional value. This is according to the research carried out by the center for science in the public interest (CSPI). Additionally, many fast-foods all over the world invest more money in marketing their products. It is noteworthy that they get massive returns from the commercials because the response is overwhelming. Currently, the companies have adopted the use of technology in their advertisements which brings the question of whether these commercials will be eliminated any time soon. Some studies have proved that fast-food commercials have contributed much on the occurrence of obesity in children and young adults. As much as fast-food is consumed by everyone, it is definite that the primary target is the children.
Fast food at school
It is a fact that the drinks and snacks sold in the food courts adjacent to schools are of poor nutritional value. Despite this, the children still go ahead and consume this junk as they are not aware of the health consequences of consuming such food. A national survey carried out by (CSPI) found out that 75% of drinks and 85% of snacks. This research was carried out on vending machines. Moreover, according to the research the foods children buy outside the school lunch program contribute negatively to their health. In as much as it is hard for the parents to control their children’s eating habits while in school, it is advisable not to lend them money for lunch. Besides they should enroll them to the school lunch program. Despite the effects of junk food on children public schools still have the audacity to peddle these foods through out the school day. This is a clear indication that these unhealthy foods are directed to the children for purposes of profit making.
It is essential for the concerned authorities to step in and regulate the food sold outside and inside the school lunch program. In addition, the regulation of nutrient content or ban of vending these foods near schools is the primary solution to the health problems affecting the children. The advertisement of these foods in the national media should also be regulated. This is because the children will not keep off these foods however much they are made aware of its health implications. As a matter of fact fast-food industry has significantly advanced over the years and at the moment many have adopted sophisticated means of doing business from production to sales. The major fast-food companies in the world include Mc Donald’s, sub way, Whataburger, Quiznos sub, taco bell, Wendy’s and other small scale vendors. It is evident that fast-food marketers have employed a variety of get ways that easily captures the children’s attention. The commercial channels being used presently have been very successful, and they include the internet and television as the main channels. However, there are other advertising channels such as print media, posters, promotional gifts and strategic location of products in stores (Roberts, 2001, p, 257).
Advertisement of fast food products
Moreover, they have put in place effective advertisement strategies that convey the information to the children in and outside the school. It is evident that other than the big companies, the small scale vendors have pitched camp in areas adjacent to the schools. The department of agriculture has been mandated to regulate the content of nutrients in public school lunch program. Despite this fact, the USDA has little mandate in ensuring the foods sold near schools or in vending machines are of excellent nutritional value. As a result, CSPI suggests that the congress should deliberate more powers to the USDA to regulate the junk foods a situation that will preserve the integrity of the school lunch program. Harkin Tom, a senator in the United States house of congress noted that these fast foods compete and in the end challenge the nutritious meal offered by the school lunch program. Similarly, fast-food sellers utilize available avenues to exploit the children and their parents. It is noteworthy that fast-food retailers have advanced the packaging, contents and pictures in a way to please the children thus capturing their attention (CSPI, p 3).
It is worth noticing that even though children come across different forms of advertisement they do not make decisions on the procurement of such products. On the contrary, it is their parents who purchase the fast-food products they consume; hence they contribute fully to the effects of these fast-foods on the health of their kids. There are other factors that contribute to the children’s choice of fast-foods, and this includes preference which is considered an effective convincing tool in any child. Thus, it is paradoxical for fast-food marketers to claim that advertisements provide nutrition education to children. What raises cynicism about these arguments is the fact that fast-food marketing targeted at children is big business but intended for gullible minds. Additionally, psychological analysts argue that such practices are unfair and constitute manipulation of the children. As a result, they urge the authorities to regulate the use of psychological advertising strategies on fast-food products. It is evident that these fast-food marketers have targeted children as they frequently sponsor programs watched mostly by children. For example, in United States of America Teletubbies a program watched by children was first sponsored by burger king. When they withdrew their sponsorship McDonald’s took over the deal, moreover they distributed toys that represented the four characters in the program. These fast-food marketers have designed commercials that tackle fields children prefer which include physical satisfaction (Nestle, 2007, p, 181).
Research has proved that most of the fast-food commercials are aired on Saturday morning during prime time children programming. With all this creativity in commercial designs and the timing of the commercials it is quite obvious that these advertisements target the children. As a matter of fact, these commercials have on a large scale influenced children’s preferences, demands and choices of food. Furthermore, those commercials aired frequently seem to have taken the biggest share of these changes in children behavior. Basing on recent studies it is rather obvious that the fast-foods target children because television viewing affects the caloric intake, social outlook, fitness and health of children. It is evident that children who watch most fast-food commercials tend to consume more calories than those who do not watch such commercials. Furthermore, this is in line with a recent well documented study that related hours spent watching food commercials and obesity. The increase in childhood obesity prompted the pediatrics organizations to recommend limits on viewing television, promotion of critical viewing skills and control over the content of programs and commercials that target children (Paxon, 2006, p, 174).
The other factor that portrays fast-foods as targeting the children is their change of tact in the advertisement of their products. It is noteworthy that currently children spend less time on television because they have embraced the advanced technology. Besides they are presently involved in playing video games on sophisticated video sets or over the internet. Thus, fast-food companies have gone a notch higher by placing their logos on toys, game screen savers and children fun websites. This reveals their intention to capture the children’s attention. It is a fact that the sites to advertise fast-foods to the children are limited only to the marketer’s imagination. For example, the M & M candy company has printed their logos on toys, school accessories, clothing and games. This is a strategy to catch the children’s attention and promote their products. Similarly, McDonalds offers toys, movie coupons, cups and labeled items for celebrations. In addition, it distributes these items in its outlets through out the world. In other circumstances, the fast-food companies print counting books for children that use the brand names for candies, cookies and other snacks. In between the pages of this books pictures of snacks have been strategically placed, thus the children get motivated to purchase more of these snacks. Basing on the above marketing strategies it is quite obvious that fast-foods directly target children (Arnett, 2007, p 714).
According to studies carried out, it is shocking to find out that in as much as exercise is essential for health, the childhood obesities have nothing to do with insufficient exercise. Pennsylvania’s state board has proposed the constitution of more physical activity to the school curriculum. Additionally, it has proposed higher nutritional standards for the foods sold in vending machines and those sold outside the school meals. All this is in a move to improve the children’s health through consumption of more nutritious meals. The government has stepped up its efforts to ensure good nutrition in children through nutritional improvement of the fast food products. It is evident that the congress is set to reauthorize the children’s nutrition act, the childhood obesity epidemic is under scrutiny of the presidential task force and the “Let’s Move” campaign which is the first lady’s initiative has shown concern on this issue (Barnard, 2010, p 2).
It is also worth acknowledging that the fast food companies do not deliberately target children. Some analysts argue that in a way the foods prepared by the fast food companies seem to be preferred by the children naturally. As a result, over the years they have grown fond of these foods making it their preferred choice. The government through the department of agriculture has also contributed much on the consumption of fast food by the children. The foods that the department supplies to schools are mainly high-fat meat products, thus a large percentage of the food has saturated fat that do not meet the department’s own standards. In as much as the companies have been criticized for advertising their products on children merchandises, it is clear that their main target is usually the parents or guardians of these children who have the responsibility of purchasing these items for the children.
It is a fact that currently fast-food dictates the eating habits of many people; however, it becomes a nuisance when the children also fall in to the same trap. It is noteworthy that the fast food companies deliberately target children. Furthermore, children need to consume nutritious foods as they are still developing. Most importantly, the concerned authorities should move swiftly and put in place measures that will control the presence of fast-food commercials on sites and media easily accessible by the children. Even though the fast-food companies are being condemned for directing their products to the children, parents should be predestined more. This is because parents have failed to instill good eating habits in their children. Thus, they should also step up and fight this unhealthy behavior being imposed on their children. It is evident that in excess consumption of fast-foods leads to occurrence of obesity. As a result, it is prudent to shun the consumption of such foods. Parents have a responsibility of managing what their children consume at any time. In addition, the parents must take control of the channels that their children watch on television. Thus, they should not allow the children to watch misleading commercials and programs. The same applies to the accessories the children use both at home and at school whereby they should not contain advertisements of fast-food companies.
Arnett, J 2007, Encyclopedia of children, adolescents, and the media, Volume 1, California (CA)
Barnard, N 2010, Lousy school lunches fuel childhood obesity, Philadelphia (PH): the
Center for science in the public interest (CSPI) 2004, School vending machines” Dispensing
junk”, viewed November, 2010 <http//www.cspinet.org/schoolfood
Nestle, M 2007, Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health,
California (CA): University of California Press.
Paxon, C 2006, Childhood Obesity: The Future of Children, Massachusetts (MA): Brookings
Roberts, 2001, Advanced leisure and recreation, Oxford (OX): Heinemann.