Are Children Specific Food Advertisements A Vice?
Food advertisements act as signals for consumption of displayed foods. These advertisements conditionally stimulate individuals into consuming the advertised food products, as these activate a sequence of logical, cognitive and behavioral responses among the audiences. This leads to changing attitudes and preferences of individuals related to the advertised food products.
Disproportion is seen in regards with food marketing and advertisements. A large portion of the advertisements airing on television or social media target children. The purpose of these advertisements is to familiarize children with these products and increase their willingness to consume them. Through these advertisements, the food industry promote sales of unhealthy snack foods and junk foods among the younger audiences.
Unhealthy food advertisements increase the dietary intake of children and decrease their diet quality. This leads to over-consumption of food items rich in sodium, sugars, carbohydrates, saturated fats and trans fats which causes weight gain among children. According to a study, children are exposed to an average of five food advertisements per hour. This excessive exposure to food advertisements leads to over-consumption of unhealthy foods and increased chances for weight gain among children.
Children can easily be manipulated into thinking that these unhealthy foods will provide them large amounts of energy or make them popular among their peers. These colorful advertisements alter the minds of young children and push them into the quagmire of craving these food items. Most of the food advertisements use colorful images and cartoon characters to create an emotional connection with children. This is done in order to build positive attitudes among children related to these products and increase their sales.
Not only food advertisements but also the packaging of food, branding of food, and food placement in food stores is done in order to attract children. Policy makers need to target and impose limitations on advertisement and marketing of unhealthy foods to younger audiences. Instead, food advertisements should be used to raise awareness among children related to the intake of whole foods, fruits and vegetables.
Media regulating bodies need to play a vital role in controlling the airing of unhealthy snack and junk food advertisements that have specifically been curated for young children. Only through the timely control of these negative environmental influences, will the children of Pakistan be able to break free from the vice of obesity and associated complications.
In a nutshell, Aandeo is of the view that media can play a very important role in shaping food habits of children. As they are impressed by what they see on screen. Proper regulatory body needs to be made by taking dietitians online who can guide food industries on designing healthy foods for children and by teaming up with advertising sector on how to promote healthy eating habits among our children. So that we can timely prevent their health from deteriorating.