Big Food, Big Marketing and Big Children

childhood obesity

By now, we are all well aware that the state of our children’s health is in rapid decline. With nearly 30% of children identified as either overweight or obese and the alarming rate with which children are developing type II, adult-onset, diabetes, everyone is attempting to assert blame for the epidemic that has a firm grip on the health of our youth.

Some believe that parents are at fault for lack of participation in the health and wellness education of children while others claim that poor federal oversight in public programs is to blame. Although these are certainly valid opinions, the most subversive and damaging influences on the health of our children are the predatory marketing techniques of multinationals that are displacing local food systems and fast food Goliath that are brainwashing our kids.

Fortunately, parents are getting wise to the detriment of an unhealthy diet and are voicing their support for policies limiting the marketing of nutrient poor foods. However, they may be unaware of the strategies food marketers may be using to exert influence over a child’s food preferences.

Marketing Fast Food to Kids

That being said, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to display one of the most recent affronts to moral principle put on by the favorite fast food establishment of my youth: McDonalds.


Tricky, right? If I wasn’t so passionate about maintaining an almost monastic diet, I would be in front of the line to test the McDonalds ‘better diet’ that includes fruit and dairy along side a stack of McNuggets (which are made with a slew of unsavory ‘ingredients’) and a sleeve of golden fries (that happen to be flavored with beef). Honestly, I interpret this commercial as an attempt to trick kids into to believing that a trip to the golden arches is a healthy alternative to traditional fast food fare, which they should utilize in their next meal pitch.

All things considered, and without turning this into a policy discussion, I believe that education is the most viable solution. We certainly cannot stop kids from watching TV or completely shield them from the manipulative marketing techniques that have become commonplace in our society, but we can involve our kids in family food decisions and expose them to the complex relationship between food and health in the hopes of teaching them how to individually make smart decisions. No small task I know, but creating sustainable change seldom happens overnight.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Dave_B_

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About the Author

A holistic nutritionist in the making, Matthew spends the majority of his time trying to unravel the beautifully complex relationship between food, health and spiritual well-being. While this may sound like a somewhat glamorous pursuit, his daily journey towards enlightenment often begins and ends in front of a computer or textbook with the occasional retreat to the kitchen to rejuvenate his mind and body. When not enthralled in his quest to greater understanding, Matthew can be found attempting some insane test of physical endurance on the highways of Arizona, eating peanut butter and banana bagel sandwiches in his pajamas, or watching cartoons with his amazing fiance and puppy. If you're interested in joining Matthew on his journey to health and wellness, please feel free to follow him on Twitter (@veggiematthew), Facebook or at his blog.