Advertisements for junk food have been blamed for sparking childhood obesity. In response to this, several companies that manufacture high-sugar products have voluntarily announced that they will no longer run these advertisements during children’s programming. These companies include Kellogg, Kraft, Cadbury, Campbell Soup, General Mills, Mars, McDonald’s, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and Hershey. In the past, these companies have specifically targeted children to help sell their products. Children are said to have high influence over what their family buys. A study done on Canadian children found that those between the ages of 9 and 14 spend $1.9 billion and influence $20 billion of family purchases each year. They have the ability to do this by nagging their parents about a specific product until their parents get it for them. This has been going on since the 1960s. Today, the average Canadian child watches about 20,000 commercials per year with two hours of TV viewing per day. Over 8,000 of these are food commercials. With 83 percent of food advertisements being for junk foods, fast foods, and soft drinks and only two percent for fruits and vegetables, it gives children the incentive to prefer junk foods over healthy foods. These practices are unfair for children who are learning to develop a sense of identity. Until they are five years old, most children do not recognize the difference between entertainment and advertising. It takes another year for them to understand others’ motivations. In this way, they don’t realize that the purpose of advertising is to influence them to buy their products. By the time they reach their pre-teen years, between eight and 12 years old and well into their teen years, they continue to be influenced by commercials despite their understanding of them. They use these commercials as a resource to find out what kids their age are into. However, in this way it is the companies who make these products who determine what kids are into. In the end, the public’s negative opinion towards advertising is mainly due to health concerns. By cutting down on the number of junk food ads they see, children will be less inclined to ask for these products. Parents will then have more opportunities to introduce them to healthier foods. This helps cut down on childhood obesity and puts parents back in charge of their children’s well being.

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