The prevalence of obesity among children in the U

The prevalence of obesity among children in the U.S is alarming with recent surveys showing that it is the leading health concern among parents because about 30 percent of children and teenagers are affected. As a result, considerable efforts have been made in an attempt to reduce childhood obesity. In doing so, particular attention has been on the availability of the fast foods and its relation to childhood obesity. Moreover, the role that fast food restaurants play in the prevalence of childhood obesity has made this a highly debated issue. Even though researchers such as Barry Popkin argue that the consumption of fast-food is not merely to blame for childhood obesity, there is also overwhelming evidence that portrays that fast-food consumption is the leading cause of obesity. With the increase of childhood obesity at an alarming rate, the U.S government should not allow corporations to market unhealthy foods to children.
Children food choices are highly influenced by the advertisements in the media that focus on infants. They have grown to be receptive to the different kinds of media which have made them more interested in watching television shows. Research by Cezar indicates that children between the ages of 2 to 11 spend an average of three hours a day watching television (11). As a result, they are exposed to different fast-food advertisements which correlate with increased reported requests of the advertised fast-foods. This is attributed to the fact that children have a remarkable ability to remember the content of the ads. Their preference of the fast-food is because of repeated exposure to fast-food commercials. In support of this, a research by the Institute of Medicine and National Academies found that fast-food advertisements influence the foods that children consume hence suggesting that television advertisements are linked to childhood obesity (Cezar 11). Thus, the fact that fast-food marketing results in increased obesity cases among children are reason enough to ban these advertisements by fast-food companies.
Fast-foods have poor nutritional content, hence allowing corporations to market these foods encourages poor eating habits among the children. As a result, previous research has used television ratings to determine the nutritional content of the food advertisements observed by children. The results of the research indicate that most of the food products advertised on television were unhealthy. Most of these food products were high in sodium, sugar or fat. The snacks were high in saturated fat while the soft drinks were high in saturated sugar (Cezar 12). Therefore, childhood obesity will increase if fast-food companies continue to market their food products that are high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat to the children.
Promotions or marketing by fast-food companies has made these foods to be a huge part of the American diet in the past years. The fact that these foods are affordable and convenient make busy parents feed their children fast-foods (Sorensen 2). Particularly, the advertisements influence the purchase decisions of the parents. Also, most of these companies make their fast-food restaurants children friendly by having play areas that have toys and happy meals. This is a marketing strategy by these companies that aims to attract families to go to eat in the restaurants with their children. The fast-food is loaded with grease, artificial preservatives and high sugars which are harmful to the body which results in obesity.
Childhood obesity has both long-term and short-term effects. Marketing these unhealthy foods would only prolong the health effects that obesity has on children. Regular consumption of unhealthy foods means that children fall short of certain nutrients and vitamins in the body, which then makes their bodies prone to illnesses. For instance, they are more likely to have high blood pressure, which is a condition linked with heart disease (CDC). Due to lack of nutrients such as calcium, children are more likely to have bone and joint problems. Despite the health and physical effects, obesity may affect a child’s social skills because of low self-esteem. Obesity may also result in mental health issues where children feel depressed because of their physical appearance. Thus, these effects associated with obesity necessitate the need to reduce consumption of fast-foods among children and restricting marketing would be the first step.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of the influence that marketing has on fast-food consumption among children, there are opposing views that suggest that unhealthy foods may cause childhood obesity, but the marketing of the unhealthy foods has nothing to do with the rapid increases in childhood obesity (Busbee). Instead, the poor dietary diets that emanate from the children’s homes are to blame for rapid cases of childhood obesity in the US. With this regard, Barry Popkin suggests that the consumption of fast-food among children is a dietary pattern fostered by the parents or guardians at an early age (Busbee). Furthermore, children who have a tendency to rely on fast-foods have parents who do not have time to prepare healthy foods. While Popkin makes a valid argument, we cannot ignore the fact that marketing is what makes the parents know about the fast-food restaurants. Therefore, marketing of fast-foods more or less has to do with parents introducing the unhealthy diets to their children.
Indeed, promotion of unhealthy foods promotes the consumption of fast-foods among children which then results in increased childhood obesity cases in the US. Children are vulnerable consumers and do not have the ability to discern or understand the persuasive or commercial intent behind the advertising messages of fast-foods (Mahajan and Raheja 149). Therefore, restricting marketing of fast-food by the US government is a necessary step to reduce obesity among children in the US. This can be achieved by restricting the marketing of the unhealthy foods to the times when children are not watching. This will promote dietary changes as well as reduced cases of illnesses associated with obesity. Governments also need to make significant improvements that protect children from predatory fast-food marketers from exploiting the vulnerabilities of the children.