Food Marketing to Children and Youth:


Creating an environment in which children grow up healthy should be a high priority for the nation. Sadly, neither parents nor govt is having clue! Forget about schools as they are no more sacred places.

Children’s dietary and related health patterns are shaped by the interplay of many factors—their biologic affinities, their culture and values, their economic status, their physical and social environments, and their commercial media environments—all of which, apart from their genetic predispositions, have undergone significant transformations during the past three decades. Among these environments, none have more rapidly assumed central socializing roles among children and youth than the media.

But if you share this with parents, they respond: Oh, you are thinking too much! Its ok if they become consumers!


Food Marketing to Children and Youth

Creating an environment in which children and youth can grow up healthy should be a very high priority for the nation. Yet the prevailing pattern of food and beverage marketing to children in America represents, at best, a missed opportunity, and, at worst, a direct threat to the health of the next generation. Dietary patterns that begin in childhood give shape to the health profiles of Americans at all ages. Because these patterns reflect the intersecting influences of our cultural, social, and economic environments, ensuring that these environments support good health is a fundamental responsibility, requiring leadership and action from all sectors.

The dramatic rise in the number of U.S. children and youth who are obese, have type 2 diabetes, and are at increased risk for developing obesity and related chronic diseases in adulthood, is a matter of national concern. Obesity among children and youth has more than tripled over the past four decades—from about 5 percent in 6- to 19-year-olds in the 1960s to 16 percent in 1999–2002. More than 9 million U.S. children and youth are obese and another 15 percent are at risk for becoming obese. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes among children and youth—previously known as “adult-onset” diabetes—has more than doubled in the past decade.

As a society, we have moved well beyond the era when our dietary focus was on ensuring caloric sufficiency to meet basic metabolic needs. We are now confronted with nutritional inadequacy of a different sort. Diets that are high in calories and other constituents such as saturated fats, and low in certain nutrients are putting our children and youth at risk for diseases later in life, such as heart disease, stroke, circulatory problems,some cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Parents, communities, the government, public health sector, health care systems, and private enterprise all face significant challenges to create an environment for our children and youth that turns the course and enhances their prospects for healthy lives.