Deceptive TV Advertisements and Childhood Obesity

Essay by ranma237College, UndergraduateA-, February 2007

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The use of mass media is the best way to reach large segments of the population and can be used as a positive strategy for addressing childhood obesity. Media has the power to educate the public, help change social norms for the youth about their own behavior, including their eating patterns as well as for parents about their actions on behalf of their children. Unfortunately, mass media particularly fast-food advertising has not often been used to address the problem of childhood obesity. With the hectic schedule of a typical American lifestyle, one tends to neglect the most important aspect of life- self-nourishment. One must eat foods that are healthy as well as nutritious and balanced for optimal body functioning and preservation. However, the unscrupulous misrepresentation of TV advertising has caused millions to choose fast-food restaurants over healthier alternatives and has in effect, contributed to the higher incidence of childhood obesity in the United States. Believing that fast food is healthy is misleading and therefore this should be reevaluated and corrected.

What is the main purpose of advertising? Advertising is meant to inform, persuade and remind the public to buy a specific product and eventually earn profits. Marketing products through mainstream TV is designed to first and foremost get one's attention and through the use of advanced high technology, entertainment and creativity, it is able to persuade the viewers to buy its product. Consequently, sales margin in the market is increased as well as greater share in the market with continuous patronage of such products.

For instance, the fast food industry uses images of crisp green lettuce, juicy red tomatoes, and crunchy nutritious onions in its advertisements to lure the hungry American off their couch and into fast-food restaurants. This alluring view of such images coupled with endorsements of celebrities...