Have you watched TV lately? Prime time evening shows are overflowing with commercials advertising junk food. Pizza, ice cream, candy bars, soda, sodium-filled snacks, and fast food. Where are the ads with fresh salads, fruits and whole grain snacks? Can you blame kids for the unhealthy choices they make when all they're exposed to is crap?
For years, health officials have warned us that kids were flooded with too many commercials glorifying unhealthy foods. Finally researchers studied the effects of these commercials.
Researchers monitored thirteen TV networks from late May to early September of 2005. On average, children ages 8-12 saw about 21 food commercials a day - that's 7,600 a year.
Of the food ads, 34% were for candy and snacks, 29% for cereal, 10% for drinks, 10% for fast food, 4% for dairy, 4% for prepared meals, and the rest for breads, pastries, and restaurants.
In December 2005, The Institute of Medicine concluded that these food commercials contradicted dietary guidelines for children and were putting children's health at risk. The Institute recommended that these companies change their marketing strategies and gear them towards healthier choices for impressionable and budding consumers.
In November, 10 major food and beverage companies including Coco-Cola Co., McDonald's, and PepsiCo Inc., agreed to voluntarily devote at least half of their kid-directed ads towards advertising healthier diets and lifestyles.
Don't get too excited just yet. Nothing has really changed so far, but researchers believe that this study that was recently released will help jumpstart these companies into following through with their health kick.