The article “Fast-Food Marketing and Children’s Fast-Food Consumption: Exploring Parents’ Influences in an Ethnically Diverse Sample” by Grier et al. (2007) details the current state of childhood obesity and how the marketing and advertising campaigns by fast food companies to both parents and children is partly responsible for the obesity epidemic that is seen today (Grier, 221-235). As Grier et al. (2007) explain, the prevalence of childhood obesity in schools can be compared to an epidemic of a virulent disease on a global scale (Grier, 221-235). Research statistics have shown that on average 15.5% of children aged between five to fifteen in school have body mass indexes reaching 30 or higher, far above the norm of 25 or below. In total, nearly 25 million children around the world can be considered overweight, obese, or morbidly obese.
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In the U.S. and U.K. populations alone the sheer rate of childhood obesity has caused an upsurge in cases associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and other maladies associated with being overweight. The source of these problems is threefold namely: eating habits, the sedentary lifestyle of children in the modern era, and the lack of proper education on the future problems associated with obesity. Insights into the degree of the problem reveal that on average only 42% of children who come to school opt to eat at the school’s cafeteria. The remainder chooses to either bring their lunches or have their lunches handed over the fence to them by their parents. Unfortunately, a vast majority of these lunches are composed of unhealthy fast food options which can cause serious health problems when consumed consistently over a long period.
To examine the impact of advertising and marketing campaigns on parents and children Grier et al. (2007) conducted a cross-sectional study examining 5 key points of interest namely: fast food access, exposure to fast food promotions, fast food attitudes, social norms about fast food and fast food consumption among children. The study was conducted in the following locations: New Jersey, New York, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico to attain an ethnically diverse mix of subjects (Grier, 221-235). Each participant was selected based on having a child 2 – 12 years of age with each subject being given a chart with a 5 point scale consisting of a variety of questions that pertained to the aforementioned 5 key points of interest.
The results of the Grier et al. (2007) study showed that on average nearly 10,000 TV ads appear within a given year which focuses on promoting the products of various restaurants and companies. Children in particular are targeted by fancy commercials advertising sugary sweets through the use of cleverly crafted cartoonish elements in the commercial itself. Since TV advertisements are an extension of popular culture it can be seen that popular culture is one of the primary reasons behind the obesity problem America now faces due to this patronage of products that are not only unhealthy but cause people to become obese as a result of their consumption.
Grier et al. (2007) explain that the power of advertising should not be underestimated since it has been shown that TV ads are one of the best ways to convince people to buy a certain product. From this, it can be seen that the causes behind obesity are not merely the fast-food culture that Americans find themselves in but also the actions of various corporations that promote with wild abandon their products without taking into consideration the possible ramification on the population.
Based on the given information it can be seen that while junk food is behind the current obesity problem in the U.S. it is not the only cause. The unmitigated marketing practices employed by various corporations that seek to influence Americans to buy their products is a prime contributing factor to the problem of obesity that America now faces due to its prevalence in popular culture which influences people to such an extent that it causes them to buy the products of these companies. The combination of these factors is the primary reason behind the prevalence of obesity and as such, they must be controlled to prevent the problem of obesity from getting worse. Taking this into consideration it can be seen that
popular culture advertisements play a distinct role in influencing the eating habits of children since they in effect entice children to eat more than they should. What must be understood is that the basis of all advertising campaigns is to increase the consumption of a particular product. The only problem with the current situation is that the increased consumption of junk food is in no way positive due to the high caloric content and low nutritional value of a vast majority of junk foods currently being advertised on television and in print ads today.
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It is in the opinion of Grier et al. (2007) that the exposure of parents to such advertisements creates an adverse effect on children as well since parents would take their children to fast food establishments or buy junk food due to the enticing commercials they see. Since eating junk food isn’t limited to a specific age Grier et al. (2007) believes that due to advertising campaigns and the overall convenience fast food and junk food gives parents who are struggling to raise young kids the result is a greater propensity to introduce these unhealthy foods to children at an early age.
Grier, Sonya, Janell Mensinger, Shirley Huang, Shiriki Kumanyika, and Nicolas Stettle. “Fast-food marketing and children’s fast-food consumption: exploring parents’ influences in an ethnically diverse sample.” Journal Of Public Policy & Marketing. 26.2 (2007): 221-235. Business Source Premier. Web.