Advocacy, Healthy eating

Food ads to children

The food industry spends more than $4 million a day to advertise food to children. Most of the time, the foods they advertise contain high sugar, high sodium, high saturated fat, and they are high in calories and low in nutritional value. They are often the kind of foods that disrupt appetite because they contain added sugar, so probably, the kids who eat them still feel hungry for more.

What are some of the consequences of this aggressive advertising? The top sources of calories for kids under 18 come from pizza, soda, and cookies and cakes. Added sugars and unhealthy fats count for 40% of the calories that kids eat. And one half of all the vegetables that kids eat are chips and french fries. Lots of the foods advertised to kids contain synthetically produced food dyes. It seems there is controversy over whether or not these dyes cause or worsen hyperactive disorder. I can’t help but suspect the industry for fomenting controversy, especially if they are anything like the tobacco industry, which did just that for years to cast doubt on the health risks of tobacco.

I believe that foods are better in their natural state without added chemicals like dyes. I take Michael Pollan’s advice: “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

If you want to take action to protect the nation’s children, write to the CEOs of the major food companies to ask them to stop fighting against guidelines for responsible marketing to children, and to ask them to work with governmental agencies and families, rather than against them.

Visit the website for the Center for Science in the Public Interest to find out what else you can do.

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