With childhood obesity being at an all-time high in the United States, many people wonder why this continues to be a problem. Other people wonder who is to blame. 99% of all schools now serve fresh fruits and vegetables with their school lunches. It is mandated by the federal government if the school wants to receive the subsidies that the government provides to the school nutrition programs. One area of blame is the media. In 2006, the last year in which I could find supportive data, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that about $870 million was spent on child-directed marketing and about $1 billion on adolescent marketing of food alone. 65% of the total expenditure was spent advertising carbonated beverages, fast-food restaurants, and breakfast cereals. Most of the remaining 35% of the food marketing was spent on other beverages, snack foods, and candy. These are the same foods that provide the emptiest calories to our children (Pomeranz, 100).
One would assume that a parent would know what is healthy for his or her child to eat. But do adults in America understand nutrition? Adults have an obesity problem as well. It is such a problem that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held the National Summit of Legal Preparedness for Obesity Prevention and Control (NSLP) (Benkin, Renolds, and Hunter, 5). I know many people are overweight. Go anywhere in America and anyone can see that. But, as an American, I value freedom. Do we want the government getting involved in our diets? I always assumed I could essentially eat what I want, when I want, pretty much where I want. Is that going to end? I do not think that this country is at that point, yet. The question remains, should we worry if the government is holding meetings?
In this essay I did view the media’s influence on children’s healthy eating choices and government’s influence on healthy eating choices. Now it is time to view how I, as an adult, can potential influence the eating habits of a child. In a report by Nguyen, McCullough, and Noble, it is indicated that any adult, such as a parent, can influence a child’s food selections (594). A child is not going to know what the government is telling them that they should eat. If children see food on television, they are not going to know what it tastes like. It is the food choices that they actually have the opportunity to taste that will shape their preferences and that are determined by the adults with whom they have contact.
In today’s society, we adults are the best educated that there has ever been in society. Nutrition information is more available today than it has ever been in previous times. These labels have included on them daily percentages for a 2,000 calorie diet so people should be able to tell if they are consuming too much of something that is negative for their health or too little of something that is needed for a well-rounded diet. Why are these labels not being put to their best use? One reason may be that about 25% of our country speaks Spanish as their primary language. Few labels include a Spanish translation. This might be one area in which food manufacturers can either voluntarily help society or include Spanish on their packaging or an area where the government needs to intervene and mandate that a Spanish translation be included on all packaging. Another way which may help people to understand the labeling is another method of displaying the information, such as a bar or pie graph. Visual imagery may help some people better understand the material that is being presented in the labeling. In the end, our society needs to learn how to read and interpret the information on the packaging, interpret it, and put it to good use so that they can lead longer and healthier lives.
Benken, DE, MA Reynolds, and AS Hunter. "National Summit On Legal Preparedness For
Obesity Prevention And Control: Editors' Preface." Journal Of Law, Medicine & Ethics
37.2 (2009): 5-6. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 4 Sept. 2012.
Nguyen, Simone P., Mary Beth McCullough, and Ashley Noble. "A Theory-Based Approach To
Teaching Young Children About Health: A Recipe For Understanding." Journal Of
Educational Psychology 103.3 (2011): 594-606. PsycARTICLES. Web. 4 Sept. 2012.
Pomeranz, JL. "Television Food Marketing To Children Revisited: The Federal Trade
Commission Has The Constitutional And Statutory Authority To Regulate." Journal Of
Law, Medicine & Ethics 38.1 (2010): 98-116. CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 4 Sept.