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Debate: Junk food advertising ban

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Should junk food advertising be banned, especially during children's television programs?

Background and context

Since 2006, there have been motions to ban junk food advertising, mainly provided by the World Health Organisation. There have been mixed responses, but mainly health organisations have agreed with the idea.

The move appears part of a larger effort to enhance health in the United States and elsewhere. In October 2004, the US federal government enacted new laws requiring school districts to adopt healthier nutritional guidelines and to establish a local school wellness policy by the beginning of the 2006-07 school year. In addition, Washington state lawmakers last year approved a measure directing school districts to develop nutritional guidelines for the foods they sell in schools. The districts were given until Aug. 1, 2005 to adopt new nutritional policies, which also needed to address physical education programs.

Contents

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Would businesses (TV stations and fast food restaurants) be effected negatively?

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Yes

  • Junk food is no longer fashionable and is being phased out. Soda pop, long a staple of the “in” crowd on high school campuses, is on the outs at many schools. Bottled water and fruit juices are the new – and sometimes only – beverages of choice. Candy bars have taken a back seat to granola bars, fruit yogurt parfaits have replaced ice cream cones, and fried potato chips have lost out to baked soy chips.
It’s part of a “healthy diet” transformation taking place across the state as schools from Pre-K to 12th grade are gradually shedding junk food from their campuses. The move toward better nutrition in schools also has been motivated by new state and federal guidelines.
While many school lunch menus have been revamped, some schools are still struggling with how to phase out unhealthy snacks and soda pop.

Karen West, pugetsoundparent.com

This issue is causing some schools to continue to scale back on how much healthy food they serve.
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No

  • "Junk food companies" would still be allowed to advertise, just not during children's programs.
  • Many schools are trying to phase out "fast food" and "sodas" but many are worried that sales will sink considerably. Many schools have opened new snack bars that serve health foods, but some schools are still having trouble phasing out junk food.
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Does junk food advertising contribute to obesity problems?

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Yes

  • Children are swayed easily by advertisements to consume junk food. Most children if they are convinced by an advertisement will want to get the product, in this case, junk food. Eating junk food causes obesity and television advertising during children's programs will just convince innocent children that junk food is good. Stopping these advertisements will help obesity and lower children's intake of unhealthy foods.
  • Not only does advertising cause obesity, but so too does TV watching. It is proven that both watching TV and junk food advertising leads to obesity and if a child is watching television in the first place, watching junk food advertisements will not help the world's obesity problem.
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No

  • Junk food advertising does not force parents to buy the food. Just because the junk food is being advertised does not mean that parents should buy it for their children or give their children the money to buy it. It is important to recognize that parents have the final say, and also are ultimately responsible for what their children eat. It matters little, therefore, that children might be swayed by advertisements. We should place greater onus of responsibility on parents, and if we are concerned that they are buying junk food for their children, we should attempt to address that problem. But, this has less to do with junk-food advertising and more to do with informing the health decisions of parents.
  • If we apply the principle of individual responsibility, advertising is fine. It is important not to hold businesses and advertisers responsible for the choices of individual consumers. If a consumer wants to purchase a good, the supplier should not be blamed for supplying it. If an producer advertises their good, they should not be blamed for the consumer finding their good attractive. We must maintain the notion of individual responsibility, or people will start blaming each other for their own bad choices.
  • Parents must talk to their children about healthy eating habits. The truth is that "there is certainly a place for junk food in every diet." Elizabeth Berger, author of "Raising Kids with Character" says. Parents must talk to their children about the healthy amount. In the real world, children will be exposed to all sorts of advertisements and their parents will not always be able to protect them. Therefore, their parents must begin to teach them while they are still children.
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Is it sensible to aim junk food advertising at children?

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Pro

A child is more easily susceptible to the wiles of advertisers who seek to inundate them with images of junk food. Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's medical officer of health, is calling on Canadian politicians to address the country's growing obesity rate by banning junk food advertising to children under 13.

In an interview with Canwest News Service today, McKeown said it's important to exert influence on what children are eating because dietary patterns established early in life tend to persist.
"Most of the food and beverages advertised heavily to children are poor in nutrients and high in calories," he said. "It's not the kind of food that children should be eating to lay the foundation for health both in childhood and adulthood." Article: Canada urged to ban junk food ads aimed at kids by: Andrew Duffy
Not only are the children more likely to consume the foods they see on television and on the Internet, this consumption fosters habits that they will carry into adulthood.
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No

  • Children have little or no money. It is not sensible to aim advertisements at children because they have little or no money, and can't afford to buy the junk food anyway.

See also

External links and resources

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