Childhood Obesity and the Media

Essay by bluetorch720University, Bachelor's December 2008

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

In our modern society, children of all ages spend most of their leisure time watching televisions or surfing through the Internet. Rather than engaging in physical activities that were once much more popular, children today are less active than in previous generations. As a result of this lifestyle change, obesity is becoming an epidemic among our country's youth.

The media plays a major role in the epidemic of childhood obesity since it greatly influences many aspects of the lives of our youth. Exposure to the media greatly affects the children's choices including the type of food they eat. Television fast-food advertising can especially affect children's food and nutrition-related knowledge as well as purchase decisions, both those made directly and indirectly through parents. Based on children's commercial recall and product preferences, it is evident that advertising affects them in several ways. First, it increases food purchasing requests by children to parents.

When children accompany their parents to the store, they are more likely to ask for fruit snacks rather than actual fruit. This is a result of commercials for the fruit snacks aiming toward the children by using cartoons and such. Advertising also has an impact on children's product and brand preferences and affects their consumption behavior. The sharp increase in consumption of fast food since the 1970s can be attributed to the aggressive advertising campaigns of the fast-food industry. The fast-food industry blatantly markets to children by offering kid-oriented meals that often include toys as a way to make them more attractive. Clearly, the advertisers have been successful in meeting their objectives, as they have been drawing consumers by the millions and achieving enormous growth within the industry.

More than half of television advertisements directed at children promotes foods and beverages such as candy, fast food, snack foods, soft drinks...