The consumerist propaganda shrouds the American society with its enormous machinery to condition the masses into believing in the false aesthetics and the sense of lack only to supplement it with products bought from the bourgeois organizations which aim at monitory profit and in no way show botheration about the well-being of people and the society. The television views see a bombardment of commercials for things galore. Another industry which is showing very steady growth in the domain of American consumerism is the dieting industry. The food products are advertised with immense impetus all over. In the time when getting in shape and being fit seems to be the mantra, the younger generations keep on gaining weight gulping down the junk food which is in no way doing any good to the health.
In countries like USA and UK, parents are greatly worried by the drastic increase in the weight of their wards. Astoundingly, in the last thirty years, childhood obesity in USA has become three times the number which it previously was. About 4 percent of children in the age group of six to eleven were obese in the 1970s. Now, more than 15 percent of this group has been found to be overweight in a 2004 survey. It needs to be taken into account that in the nation almost half of the television commercials promote food products. Another alarming statistical data is that 72 percent of these advertisements promote cereal, candy and snacks and junk food.
A significant advertisement is that of McDonald’s, aired some time back, which portrays Shrek and other animated characters, which children love, converging with the world of human beings. The humans dine on McNuggets which have Shrek’s picture printed on the boxes. Shrek is in his amiable self and the commercial propagates the cause of the brand through the iconic representation of the animated character. The man in the ad even grows ears like Shrek, only to add to the attractive features channelized toward the kids.
The advertisers aim at hogging the attention of the children as they have the significant buying power. This is carried out either through direct purchases or by their parents who are influenced by their ward. The children thus exert a significant influence on the business of grocery stores and restaurants. The television and video games enhance sedentary behavior on the part of the youngsters. The advertisements are aired on television throughout the day and thus hog the attention of the children who in turn consume the products without further contemplation about their effects on health.
Advertising to children has been addressed since a long time back by the US regulators. However, no direct initiatives have been taken in regard to the scenario. However, the nexus between the television commercials of junk food and issues of obesity among the children has ignited fresh debates regarding the inception of such regulations. In stark contrast to the bizarre inaction of the US governance, the UK government has readily addressed the issue by taking a direct stand regarding the matter. Advertisements of certain food categories have been totally banned to children across the land in UK.
The problem lies in the fact that these advertisements are misleading and weave an unreal image of the food products. The poor nutritional quality of the junk foods gets passed in oblivion under the stupendous influence of the advertisement campaigns. The companies which run the fast food chains spend huge sums in the promotion of the food products. The unparalleled reach of television commercial makes these companies reach every household and condition the young minds into consuming the junk food. The propaganda thus yields huge profit for the companies by turning food into a ‘commodity’.
In the article titled “Fighting Obesity but Fronting for Junk Food”, the author, Barbara F. Meltz discusses the duality of the problem. The food chains including McDonalds’ employ the image of Shrek, a very popular animated character, for the promotion of the junk food. On the other hand, US Department of Health and Human Services runs a campaign which promotes exercise among youngsters using the same icon of Shrek. The author goes on to discuss what child psychology holds in reply to this occurrence. In the words of David Walsh, a child psychologist, the children can only get one message which is more prominent between the two contrasting ones. On being interviewed, the spokesperson of DreamWorks has opined that the institution is proud of its associations with food chain companies and HHS alike. In this context, the question of moral responsibility comes into play. It is upon the food chain industry to impose certain restrictions upon its ads just as the tobacco companies and liquor companies do. Moreover, if this is not achieved voluntarily, the role of regulatory authority comes into play. Examples are ample in this which even transcend the realm of television as the nation was endowed with a Motion Picture regulatory body in the 30s on account of film’s adverse influence on the society.
The advertisements incorporate cultural markers which are easily indentified and liked by children, thereby hogging their attention and encouraging them to consume those particular food products which show such commercials. A very recent advertisement of Oreo Cookie idolizes the product as the ideal for spreading love. It further describes that the cookie has the heavenly taste which can transform the age-old contradictions between entities and spread love. Cultural markers, which are extremely popular among children in particular, are shown in the animation. A very sweet jingle accompanies the video and thus enhances the affect. Any viewer can only be left in an awe of this delightful commercial and this is definitely loved by the children for its quintessence. This is simply an example and the television bears testimony to innumerable such advertisements which blind the individual’s rationale and make one get enticed.
It was in the year 2004, when a report was released by the Institute of Medicine talking about the status of childhood obesity in the country. The study even recommended certain initiatives which could help in mitigating the challenging situation. The report opined that one possible way was to limit or even ban the advertisements of junk food at the child of children’s programs. It is the moral duty of the government to channelize the future generation in a direction for betterment and this is the heyday for action regarding this issue. Impending health problems and obesity will have enormous adverse effect on the younger generations who are the future of the nation state. In the best interest of the state and the society, strong regulations need to be implemented with immediate effect to nullify the threats to health of the children of America.
Darwin, David. “Advertising Obesity: Can the U.S. Follow the Lead of the UK in Limiting
Television Marketing of Unhealthy Foods to Children?” Vanderblit Journal
of Transnational Law. 42:317 (2009): 317-350. Print.
Meltz, Barbara F. “Fighting obesity, but fronting for junk food.” The Boston Globe. 21 May
2007. Web. 8 June 2013.