“Should fast food chains be to blame for childhood obesity? ” As defined by dictionary. com obesity is the condition of being obese; increased body weight caused by excessive accumulation of fat. Obesity is determined by the level of BMI (body mass index). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, BMI is calculated from a child’s weight and height, and is compared to a chart that tells you what is along the normal ranges.
As you can see, children do not just wake up one day and find themselves overweight, there has to be some kind of influence that is making them that way, whether it be the foods they eat at home, or what they eat while with friends. This is not a matter that should be taken lightly. Who should be blamed? Some people believe the parents are to blame because they should provide their children with healthier meal choices at all times. Others believe the influence fast food companies have through the media and advertising is too great and children would rather have a happy meal that comes with a toy than have a healthy cooked meal from home.
The way of living has changed drastically from the 1970s to the present. Back in the 1970s mothers were more likely to be homemakers and had the time to dedicate to homemade meals three times a day. Nowadays, women are more likely to take part in careers and therefore live more hectic lifestyles. People are busier than ever and most of the time it is much easier to drive by a fast food restaurant and pick up dinner than to slave in the kitchen after a long day at work. “Fewer family meals are eaten together now (less than 5 a week of 21 meals) than in the years past” (King, 28).
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The fast food business has boomed in the recent years due to this and they tend to advertise mostly to kids using colorful advertisements with their favorite cartoon characters and reel them in by providing a toy along with a processed hamburger and greasy French fries. Being an obese child can have many effects on their health, both physical and emotional health are impacted greatly by being overweight. Some children are never taught proper ways to cope with their emotions and eating is what they turn to make them feel better when nothing else is going right.
Obese children tend to suffer from low self-esteem and may develop eating disorders in their quest to become thin. “Obese adolescents are more prone to emotional and behavior problems and also more likely to develop psychopathologies during both adolescence and adulthood” (Willette, 565). Overweight children are at risk for more diseases than children within their normal weight. “Adult diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, are being diagnosed in 8-and 9-year-old children” (King, 28).
Some parents rely on television and video games to keep their children entertained after a long day because they do not have time to take the children outside to play. ”Health concerns such as undernutrition, lack of physical activity and increased incidence of chronic diseases are more common in low-income and minority youth” (King, 28). Everywhere we turn we are bombarded by advertisements for some type of fast food restaurant. Billboards, television commercials, radio ads, and print are just some of the media used to get the message to people to come out to their restaurants, and use catchy slogans with animated characters.
It is no secret these ads are mostly advertising to children and teenagers. In 2002, it was estimated that annual sales of food and beverages to young consumers exceeded $27 billion. Advertisers have recognized that young consumers are a valuable market and have begun to advertise directly to them. Food and beverage advertisers collectively spend$10 billion to $20 billion annually to reach children and youth, and more than $1 billion of that is spent on direct media advertising to children (Willette, 565). Children are more likely to be influenced by these advertisements, especially when it involves something they think is cool.
These advertisements are mostly found on channels such as nickelodeon or Disney channel. It is very hard because there is no way to avoid these advertisements unless you move yourself and your children to a cave. Parents have an important effect on their children’s development because they are the ones who raise their children from day one. If a child is raised eating healthy foods they are more likely to keep making those choices as they grow older and pass those habits on to their children. Bad eating habits can be passed on as well.
Some parents simply don’t know how to make healthy eating choices themselves, and it affects them and their children around the waistline. Parents should lead by example; they should not only encourage their children to eat healthy, but also do the same themselves. So why are parents blaming fast food chains for their children obesity? Well, because no one wants to hold themselves responsible and it is always much easier to point the finger at someone else. No parent wants to be seen as the reason for making their child overweight and want some type of reassurance that their parenting efforts ave not all been ineffective. Parents also are the ones that pay for the fast food and provide it for their children, so it can’t fully be the fast food companies fault, right? Children are going to be children and they are going to always want what is not good for them, but the parents have some control over what they choose to feed their child, and it should be done even if it requires them to spend more time in the home. In conclusion, the media is always going to have a big impact on the lives of everyone especially children. Childhood obesity is a health epidemic affecting many children in this country today.
Parents are the ones who give guidance and should work hard to teach their children healthy eating habits. Fast food companies use advertising and many other things to attract children; but at the end of the day, companies need to make money. So the blame game parents are using needs to stop. Fast food is not going anywhere and the parents should be the ones being held responsible for their children not fast food companies who have no relation to these children.
Works cited “Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Report on Role of Media In Childhood Obesity. ” Pediatric Nursing 30. (2004): 165 Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. Willette, Amanda L. “Where Have All the Parents Gone? Do Efforts to Regulate Food Advertising To Curb Childhood Obesity Pass Constitutional Muster?. ” Journal of Legal Medicine 28. 4 (2007): 561-577. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 18 Apr. 2010. King, Nancy, and Dayle Hayes. “Shame, Blame and the ‘War on Childhood Obesity’: Confronting the Real Problems, Identifying the Positive Solutions. ” Healthy Weight Journal 17. 2 (2003): 28. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 18 Apr. 2010.
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