TV ads contribute to childhood obesity?

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Media, That's Entertainment

I don't like television commercials. In my mind, advertisements on TV are the very reason the mute button was invented. I dislike being 'sold' when I am trying to relax with a little television at the end of the day and so I tune it out. But kids aren't necessarily that discriminating when watching television. If it's on the tube, they are watching it.

According to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average American kid is watching between 30 and 50 hours of food commercials every year. What's worse, the researchers found that 90 percent of these food ads are for junk food. The use of popular cartoon characters and toys to grab kids' attention works, and experts say these commercials are contributing to the rising rates of childhood obesity.

Children's health experts hope these findings will support efforts to stop the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has suggested banning all junk food ads on TV, but some of the major food and beverage makers have different ideas. They would prefer to regulate themselves, and have formed a coalition committing to a more balanced approach to advertising with the addition of commercials that promote healthier products and active lifestyles.

Some feel that educating doctors and parents on ways to protect kids from the influence of advertising is the answer. But the whole point of advertising is to influence, is it not? The solution probably lies somewhere in the middle. But like every other parenting issue, the real solution comes back to the parents themselves. Just because a child wants something, doesn't mean they should have it. When kids are small, parents are in control of their diets and should take that opportunity to teach healthy eating habits. Plus, there is always the mute button.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.