Are Food Companies and Fast Food Industries to Blame for Child Obesity?

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In my last post I touched upon how food companies focus their advertisements on children. Although food companies and fast food industries are not fully to blame for child obesity, the influence their advertisements have on the younger generation is a major problem and contributes greatly to the obesity epidemic.

In 2012 the fast food industry spent $4.6 billion on advertisements.  This resulted in children of all ages seeing multiple advertisements for fast food industries per day:

  • Pre-schoolers saw 2.8
  • Children ages 6-11 saw 3.2
  • Teenagers saw 4.8

Advertisements for six fast food companies made up over 70% of all television ads seen by children and teens.  With advertisements being so prevalent, it’s no wonder kids feel the need to give into the temptations and indulged in fast foods.

The American Psychological Association stated, “Research has found strong associations between increases in advertising for non-nutritious foods and rates of childhood obesity. Most children under age 6 cannot distinguish between programming and advertising and children under age 8 do not understand the persuasive intent of advertising. Advertising directed at children this young is by its very nature exploitative.” Kids are able to recall information they see very easily, so the repetitiveness of commercials drill the food products into their minds. This influences their requests at the grocery store and in turn influences what parents buy for their kids.

Food companies that sell to grocery stores are just as to blame for child obesity as fast food industries are.  When you see a commercial on television, the product the commercial is promoting is usually never healthy. There are an abundance of commercials for Doritos and Pepsi. But where are the commercials for apples, bananas, and other fruits? They’re so few and far between that it seems they simply don’t exist. Maybe if fruits, vegetables, and other healthy options were portrayed the same way as junk foods, kids would want to eat them too!

One way to stop the effect advertisements have is to change the way we watch television. If we switch to using DVR (digital video recorder) than we can fast-forward during commercials and skip out on our kids seeing advertisements for junk food. If a DVR isn’t in the cards for you, make your kids do tasks during commercials. Tasks such as going upstairs/downstairs to get something, running outside to check the mailbox, or tidying up a room can kill two birds with one stone (make them miss the commercials and squeeze in some physical activity). If they don’t see the advertisements, and we don’t tell them about the foods, there is less of a chance they will beg for them when at the store.

Although distracting children during commercials doesn’t seem like much, anything could help.  Parents need to stand up to food companies and fast food industries and show them they won’t allow them to have influence over their children!


Image source:

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/lifecycles/2013/aug/6/valuing-americas-children-breaking-free-childhood-/

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Proposed Nutrition Labels Could Change Child Obesity As We Know It

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How often do you look at the nutrition information on the back of a food product?  We’ve all done it.  We’re concerned about what we’re eating so we turn the package or box over and look at the “important” information: the calories and fats.  But have you ever paid attention to the sugars?  After this, I bet you’ll start.

The article “Nutrition Facts Labels May Soon Include Added Sugar Info; Food Companies Protest Despite Risks Of Obese, Diseased America”  by Samantha Olsen explains the new proposed nutrition label by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  As of now, nutrition labels don’t include the amount of added sugars.  The amount of sugars listed is a combination of both the natural sugars and added sugars.  In the new proposed label, these two amounts will be separate to clearly define how many natural and how many added sugars are in the product.

In 2006,  there was a requirement for food companies to display the amount of trans fats on nutrition labels.  Times change and since the nutrition label was first introduced twenty years ago, we’ve gained a lot more insight into what is harmful to our bodies.  Trans fats needed to be included because of the risk and harm involved with eating them.  Now that we have gained insight into the risks of added sugars, it is time for them to be displayed as well.

The FDA states, “Many experts recommend consuming fewer calories from added sugar because they can decrease the intake of nutrient-rich foods while increasing calorie intake.”  To simplify,   the human body can use sugars up to a certain extent, passed that point the leftover amount of un-used sugars are stored as fat.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that American women should have no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons.  Although there is no specific amount for children, one can assume the recommended amount would be less than a woman’s.  In the average soft drink, there are about 10 teaspoons of sugar.  Americans are consuming way beyond their recommended amounts of sugar daily, causing a lot of sugars to be stored as fats

Children are especially at risk to become negatively affected from added sugars.  Many food companies have resulted in aiming their advertisements for their products at children.  Kids are also targeted in the grocery stores.  The unhealthy products that scream, “Eat me!” to kids are placed on the lower shelves, making them at eye level to children.  This makes the unhealthy foods hard for kids to resist, and hard for parents to say no to.

There are many people that say in order to lose weight you need to eat healthier and eat less.  Although it is never a bad idea to choose healthier options, a major part of it is people need to eat less sugars.  In order to do so, knowing the amount of evil, added sugars included in the items consumers want to buy for their kids, or themselves, would be helpful.


Image source:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm#Summary

Child Obesity for Dummies: An Intro

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One in three children in the United states are obese.  The child obesity rates in the US have tripled in the last 30 years.  This figure is very alarming, yet not shocking.  It is easy to notice the increased number of obese children when out in public.  There seems to be more and more larger children these days and the number doesn’t look like it will be decreasing anytime soon.

To diagnose someone as obese, their height and weight have to be measured.  These numbers are then used to calculate their body mass index (BMI).  The same BMI calculation is used for both adults and children.  If the individual’s BMI is over 30, they are diagnosed as obese.  There are multiple causes of child obesity and all have to be accounted for when trying prevent obesity.

Some causes of child obesity:

  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Diet
  • Environment
  • Genetics
  • Lack of sleep

Overweight children are more likely to be overweight as adults.  This long-term obesity puts children more at risk for long-term health effects and diseases caused by being so overweight.  Unfortunately,  there are just as many, if not more,  diseases obese children can be at risk for as there are causes for the obesity.

Some diseases obese children are at risk for:

  • High cholesterol
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Arthritis

This growing issue is often downplayed in the public’s eye and it is time for that to change.  The goal for this blog is to help fight and prevent child obesity.  Information and resources will be provided for parents to help prevent their child form becoming obese, or to help their child fight their obesity.  Hopefully, awareness can be raised and the rates of child obesity will decrease!

For more information follow me on Twitter and Pinterest!


Image from: http://www.wqed.org/tv/specials/childhood-obesity.php