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Childhood obesity

Corporations are bombarding children with ads that boost obesity, poor nutrition

Friday, December 08, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: childhood obesity, junk food advertising, junk food marketing


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(NewsTarget) The age groups that include young children to adolescents witness so many advertisements, medical experts now fear for their health. Reports show that 40,000 ads each year from television alone may be boosting obesity, poor nutrition, cigarette use and alcohol consumption among U.S. youth.

According to a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which appears in the December issue of Pediatrics, there should be calls for more media education to counter some of advertising's negative effects.

Dr. Donald Shifrin -- chairman of the AAP Committee on Communications -- said "We're pleading with pediatricians and parents to become aware that consumeristic tendencies are being fed right from birth we have to understand that youngsters under a certain age cannot differentiate between a commercial and a program. To them, it's real. There should be some effort on the part of parents to point out that this is a commercial."

In what is known in the advertising industry as "cradle to grave" marketing, may companies start targeted advertising when children are infants in order to ensure that children grow up with certain acceptable advertising and branding ideas and carry those impressions with them throughout their lives.

David Jernigan -- executive director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University -- said "It's so important that pediatricians and parents be aware of the pressure that kids are under, and for professional groups such as this one to keep putting pressure on industry."

Indeed, advertising aimed at children and adults is ubiquitous, and in addition to television, messages appear on the Internet, magazines, school buses, school gymnasiums, book covers and school bathroom stalls.

Several European countries have already restricted advertising to children and adolescents. Just this week, Britain banned junk food commercials from the airways during children's programming. In the United States, however, young people are inundated by ads from every medium.

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