Children, particularly children before pre-adolescence, have been shown to be very susceptible to marketing by food companies. When children are the target of focused advertising campaigns, they can suffer a number of ill effects. Advertising and marketing unhealthy foods to children is contributing to many of the problems that America has with health and healthy eating, and is very unethical.
While many will claim that marketing to children produces a great many social ills, one aspect of marketing to children that has been extensively studied is the marketing of junk food or unhealthy food to children (Guber and Berry). When children are presented with images or video of unhealthy food, they begin to desire that food. This drive is present in adults, also, and many adults struggle with it; however, children lack the decision-making skills and autonomy necessary to make good personal choices about food (Guber and Berry).
One problem with food marketing, particularly to children, is that the foods that are marketed to children are rarely healthy foods (Mcneal). Usually, they are heavily-processed foods that have business partnerships with other companies so that they are able to use well-loved children’s television figures to market to children (Mcneal). Unlike adults, children lack the cognizance to understand the manipulative nature of marketing; if the American obesity epidemic is to be stopped, then it is important to stop marketing unhealthy foods to children.
Some may argue that it is the parent’s job to protect their children from untoward influences, and if the marketing didn’t work, then companies would not use it. This is true, but parents cannot be everywhere at once; schools, for instance, are now the target of marketing campaigns. Rather than allowing companies to continue to mislead children, putting restrictions on the types of advertising done by junk food companies should be heavily considered as an option.
Guber, Selina S and Jon Berry. Marketing to and through kids. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1993. Online.
Mcginnis, J. Michael, Jennifer Appleton Gootman and Vivica I Kraak. Food marketing to children and youth. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2006. Online.
Mcneal, James U. Kids as customers. New York: Lexington Books, 1992. Online.