The Media’s Effect on Childhood Obesity: A Growing Problem Sam Greenebaum
Thesis: Due to marketing ploys through open media advertising that use cartoon characters to manipulate children’s attitudes and beliefs, along with special incentives directed towards children, the United States is seeing climbing childhood obesity rates and the correlated diseases associated with obesity.
Essential Questions: • What does it mean to have human rights? • What are my responsibilities and duties to others? • Is the human condition changing?
Facts about childhood obesity: • Cited as “fastest-growing cause of death of disease and death in America” by US Surgeon General • 1 in 8 deaths in America are attributed to obesity and obesity- related illnesses; 2 out of 3 Americans are obese • Obesity is defined as having a BMI greater than the 95th percentile • Overweightness and obesity leads to other health issues: • Cardiovascular diseases (i.e. asthma, coronary heart diseases) • Arthritis • Internal health problems (i.e. fatty liver disease, gallstones, liver malfunction etc.) • "Supersize Me”
Psychological Issues: • Childhood obesity also leads to psychological issues: • Depression • Low self-esteem • 2007 Yale study- ““children view, on average, 15 TV food advertisements… and an overwhelming 98% of these ads promote products high in fat, sugar, and/or sodium” • Vicious cycle of media exposure and rising rates in childhood obesity
Exercise in America • Exercise levels in children are DOWN • 2006- less than 1/3 of 15-year olds were getting minimum amount of required exercise/week (I hr./day) • Only 10% of public schools offer phys. ed. classes • Many of the classes do not meet Dept. of Human Health Services requirements
History of Advertising • Post WWII- advertisers took advantage of returning war vets and “baby-boomers” • 1950’s- “baby-boomers” reach adolescence; US economy began massive growth phase • 1965- “Pepsi Generation” • Yale-Rudd Center experiment- media exposure and eating habits in children
McDonald’s- the “Golden Arches” • “Success” story of advertising geared towards children • McDonald’s marketing ploys (i.e. bright colours, jingles, etc.) • McDonald’s use of product placement • Characters • Playgrounds
Question: How many grams of fat do you think this meal has? Four-piece chicken McNuggets, small Fries, and a soft drink
Playgrounds • McDonald’s has about 8,000 playgrounds in their restaurants • Burger King has about 2,000 playgrounds • “These colourful play spaces are highly effective in attracting families with young children” (“Overweight America”)
Toys • McDonalds is “one of the largest toy distributors in the nation” (“Overweight America”). • 1997- Beanie Babies
$$$The Cost of Obesity$$$ • Obesity trends in youth and adults • Cost of obesity for state of Connecticut • Correlation of obesity and socioeconomic status
Why should Americans care? • Becomes an issue that is affecting all Americans, financially and socially • Americans must be proactive about what other Americans are consuming
So what can we do? • Change the way Americans are exposed to media • Marketing healthy eating habits, rather than unhealthy ones • Market alternate modes of transportation; mutually beneficial • Marketing exercise, rather than sedentary activities
Current Efforts to Combat Childhood Obesity • First Lady Michelle Obama • Food labels • Ban on sugary beverages • Jamie Oliver • State of New York • Price of soda/sugary beverages • Nutritional information on menus • Physical Education programmes • Weight-loss Camps
In Conclusion… • There are many effort to combat childhood obesity • Children are a viable target for marketing strategists • Human condition is changing • Pushback against major corporations • More legislation must be put into place • Promotion of physical education and exercise
Works Cited • "Connecticut Commission on Children: Childhood Obesity." Connecticut General Assembly. 28 Sept. 2010. Web. 21 Mar. 2011. http://www.cga.ct.gov/coc/obesity.htm. http://www.cga.ct.gov/coc/obesity.htm • Craig, Dr. Winston. "Child Obesity in America." Vegetarian Nutrition Info. Andrews University, 2010. Web. 09 Mar. 2011. <http://www.vegetarian-nutrition.info/updates/child_obesity.php>. • Harrison, Christy. "What Should We Do about Childhood Obesity? By Christy Harrison." Time to Trim - Slate Hive. 18 Feb. 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2011. <http://hive.slate.com/hive/time-to-trim/article/slimming-the-future>. • "Nutrition Information for McDonald's Happy Meals." McDonald's. McDonald's, 06 Apr. 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2011. <http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange/Happy_Meals_Nutrition_List.pdf>. • "Obesity and Overweight for Professionals: Causes | DNPAO | CDC." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. USA.gov, 2011. Web. 26 May 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/causes/index.html>.