ANA's Dan Jaffe: Food Ads Don't Make Kids Fat
In a presentation at the Cato institute called 'Kids, Cartoons and Cookies: Should We Restrict the Marketing of Food to Children?", Association of National Advertisers' Dan Jaffe made a panel presentation citing food advertising is not the cause of the current "fat kid syndrome." His presentation along with other panelists cited research that says television viewership among children has gone down, inflation-adjusted television ad spending has dropped from 1993 to 2003 and the number of food and restaurant ads has dropped from 1993 to 2003. Another panelist cited research that found kids eat what their parents eat.
While it would be fun to slam big fat advertisers for selling fat to our fat kids thereby making them even fatter, it's just not fair. Advertisers will do anything and everything they can do to move their product even if that product is unhealthy. And it's no secret fast food is unhealthy.
So why are kids so fat? Truth be told, it's the parents. Parents need to kick their kid's asses off the couch, off the computer, off the Game Boy and get them outside. Sign them up for tennis or soccer or swimming. If that's too expensive, tell them to ride their bike around the neighborhood or just take a walk. The fact that many families are single parent families or families where both parents are working doesn't help. Time is limited. It's very easy to give in to marketing and cultural demands.
Because we are all so busy, it's easy to lay blame elsewhere. When there's no time for a parent to filter life's experiences and converse about healthy eating habits, it's easy to lay blame on marketers. In an ideal world every piece of marketed food (and every other product in every other category imaginable) would be good for you and cause no harm. Unfortunately, we live in a capitalistic society where the sole purpose is to do whatever one can do to make more money whatever the cost. In this money-drives-everything world, we have to do our own to protect our own. Don't blame the marketer. They are just doing what they have to do to remain viable in a capitalistic society.