Changing the Trend on Food and Beverage Marketing to Children
Did you know that children are being marketed to on a daily basis? This is especially true when it comes to the food they consume. We all want what’s best for our children—especially when it comes to their health and nutrition. So, why is keeping junk food out of the house so difficult? Where are children learning about the food they eat and the beverages they drink?
As parents, it is hard to get away from advertising and marketing for children and youth. Marketing is everywhere: television, video games, online, in movies, endorsed by characters and celebrities, and even on packages and labeling of products.
What is marketing?
By its very nature, marketing is designed to persuade people into purchasing a product or service. For influential young minds, this persuasion can lead to unhealthy food and beverage choices.
Food and beverage marketing to children
Healthy food and beverage choices start in childhood, and unfortunately children learn a lot about both through marketing.
Whenever a child turns on the television they are exposed to a variety of marketing messages. Did you know that before the age of five, most children are not able to tell the difference between an advertisement and a television show. Manufacturers and big brands realize how easily influenced children and youth can be, and invest a lot of money to create marketing messages they feel will influence a child’s dietary decisions.
If a child sees a marketing message for a particular beverage a child will, more than likely, ask their parents if they can have that particular beverage—healthy or not.
Ottawa Public Health is working hard to help parents and their children learn how to choose between healthy dietary choices and marketing ploys. With health-conscience information and resources, parents and children will be able to make healthier and more informed dietary choices.
What can parents do to help change the marketing trend?
Parents need to find out about products they are consuming and read food labels. Just because something says it is 100% natural does not mean it is made with natural ingredients. Eat fresh foods as much as possible, and when shopping for packaged goods, look for products that have reduced salt or sugar and no trans fats.
Parents can also help educate their children on what marketing means and help their children differentiate between learning something new and trying to be convinced to buy something.
Sure, it can be hard to say to stay away from junk food, but teaching moderation and offering alternative, healthier options is a step in the right direction.
As obesity rates continue to rise in children, it has become the mission of public health organizations to create stricter policies and regulations concerning the marketing of food and beverages to children and youth.
In Canada, the Federal government is currently working to introduce restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children and youth. These regulations include improving the information found on food labels.
The province of Quebec already banned commercial advertisements specifically directed at children under the age of 13 since the 80s. Quebec is the highest consumer of fruits and vegetables and has the lowest obesity rates for children between the ages of six and eleven.
Want to find out more information on how marketing influences the dietary choices of children and youth, and what steps are being taken to change these practices? Please visit Ottawa Public Health online.
Disclaimer: This post was generously compensated by Ottawa Public Health to share this information.