How to Keep Junk Food Ads Off Your Kid's Plate

Filed under: Nutrition: Big Kids



Nothing says "summer" like a good fast food tie-in. Among my favorites? The first Transformers movie, which was rated PG-13 but lent its brand to Happy Meal toys aimed at kids 4-9. Too bad the adult meal didn't come with a person to explain why the movie was a non-starter for kids that age.

Age-inappropriate targeting -- arguably begun in 1992 when McDonald's got scolded for pushing toys to kids for Batman Returns (rated PG-13 for violence) -- has become a time-honored practice. This summer, Burger King is promoting the PG-13 Transformers: Dark of the Moon by giving away Transformers toys with a BK Kids Meal. Subway is shilling Green Lantern.

Does this stuff work? Take one look at our country's childhood obesity numbers, and you'll be convinced.

According to a new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled "Children, Adolescents, Obesity and the Media," ads for junk food and fast food increase kids' desire for these foods. And what's a great way for your fast food message to reach kids? When it's wrapped up in an ad for the latest movie. [Read the AAP's Policy Statement.]

At Common Sense, we believe in age-appropriate entertainment. So why do these companies get away with marketing violent movies and fast food to little kids?

One way to combat the messages is to assert your views loud and clear. Start a conversation with your kids about the way that food is marketed and the tricks advertisers use to make it look appetizing. Get more pointers for keeping junk food advertising off your kid's plate.

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