Should We Unilaterally Ban Junk Food Advertising Targetting Children?

The New York Times reports that eleven huge food companies, in the face of regulatory intervention, lawsuits, and a forthcoming government study on childhood obesity, agreed to voluntarily withdraw junk food advertising from children’s TV shows targeted at an under-12 audience.

But does it go far enough? TV is just one component of the advertising spectrum, and the industry’s move won’t apply to “family”-type shows.

Maybe we should treat treat junk food ads like cigarette ads…

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  1. The Walking Eye says:

    They are completely missing the point with this ban, and it’s as bad as forcing the tobacco companies to advertise against themselves. The parents are the ones purchasing the food for the kids, and if they’re unable to say no and teach their kids to eat relatively healthy then they deserve fat 8 year olds. Teach your kids something, parents.

  2. 7livesleft says:

    Why is Burger King responsible for my decision to let my kid eat fast food? Parents have this inalienable right…no, responsibility to say “NO” when their kid demands a burger and fries for every meal. Those that don’t need to watch an open heart surgery on an overweight patient. Get the busy-bodies out of my life and let me be responsible for my own family.

  3. QuirkyRachel says:

    There was an interesting study done years ago that showed that young kids, like below 4/5 years, don’t see a difference between TV shows and the ads. To them, the ads are a part of the show’s entertainment. In other words, kids’ perceptions of the ads are tied to their perceptions of the shows. So if the kid likes the show, then he also likes the ads attached to it.

  4. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    A good portion of junk food out there has always been targeted for kids, as many adults grow out of the desire to eat fruit chew candy shaped like sharks (do they make Shark Bites anymore??) or Ninja Turtle Pies (wow, I’m making myself sound old).

    The point is, if they stopped marketing to kids, they’d loose a huge chunck of their poduct lines.

    As for the kids themselves, if they earn the money to buy the junk, then let them buy it. The problem is when a whiny kid demands all sorts of junk food, and the parents load up their school lunches with it. And, if as a parent the kid seems to buy just sooo much junk food with the allowance you give them, tell them you will stop giving them money because they are not using it soundly.

  5. banned says:

    I would be in favour of banning the ads if it were that simple. The problem is one man’s junk food is another’s cousine. Are fruit loops junkfood? I would say so but I’m sure cereal companies would argue. There is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Maybe there is, don’t let them watch so much tv and make them go outside and play, and inadvertently, exercise. On the other hand, parents are far too wrapped up in their own life to watch their children. I withhold my vote!

  6. rixatrix says:

    Kids are going to eat junk food even without the ads. If my parents don’t keep junk food around, I’ll go to Billy’s house, because his mom buys soda and chips. If my parents pack healthy food for my lunch, I’ll trade someone for something I want, or worse yet, buy my lunch at school and eat greasy pizza and french fries. The junk food problem goes much deeper than advertising – it’s a part of American culture.

  7. 7livesleft says:

    @AlteredBeast: Yes, Shark Bites are still around…ask my son.

  8. A.Twafeletta says:

    I say no, I don’t bring crap into my house…..

    BUT it would be nice if the commercials were not on during kid TV time. We are not talking about free speech, or banning fast food. We are talking about limiting a specific advertiser to a specific audience.

    If this discussion was about smokes or liquor, the yeahs would outpace the nahs.

  9. Moosehawk says:

    I remember as a kid when I saw anything food on TV, I would bitch until my parents finally couldn’t take it anymore and got me it.

    Many people are affected by this advertising in giving you a “sudden craving,” but if the commercials were removed I think we would see a small decrease in child obesity. Face it, a lot of parents aren’t really meant to be parents.

    As for myself, if the commercials for rice krispis with real strawberries were removed, I would still buy my damn rice krispis with strawberries. If they removed the fast food commercials though, I feel I would be less persuaded to go out and get an easy dinner.

  10. Schminteresting says:

    “Targeting” has but two Ts, not three.

  11. 7livesleft says:

    @Schminteresting: It has 3 if you stutter while typing

  12. roche says:

    I sure am glad the goverment is looking out for me. I can’t wait for the day we only allow ads for bottled water on television.

  13. beyond says:

    The companies already figured it out. Parents are all in “mob mentality” like they always are. Child obesity is on the rise and the media is all over it, so of course parents are freaking out about it. That means less profits as parents move with the other sheep and start looking for healthier alternatives.

    What’s can a cheap junk food place do with such a spending shift? Why, hop on board of course! They won’t advertise unhealthy food to kids, but what is unhealthy? The McDonald’s “healthy” happy meal is 4 greasy nuggets and apple slices with sugar-packed caramel dip and a low-fat milk. Sure its under 600 calories, but what’s the nutritional value of the meal? Zip, zilch, nada.

    But hey, it’s got a “HEALTHY” label on it, the media is reporting on how all these big bad food companies are changing their ways.

    Here’s a question: They are cutting proportions and adding a few lame snacks that “appear” to be healthy, but the same greasy fatty food is still on the menu. Once you get in the door with your “this place promotes healthy eating” attitude your fat kid is going to nag you for a Big Mac, not a salad.

    Btw, advertisers know that if you want to market something to a kid under 12, you make an ad featuring kids OVER 12.

    The whole “we’ve changed our ways” thing is JUST ANOTHER MARKETING CAMPAIGN.

    And its brilliant because the media is running with it and parents everywhere will fall for it.

  14. Steel_Pelican says:

    The Classical Age: “Plato and Socrates are corrupting your children.”
    The Middle Ages: “The Devil is corrupting your children”
    The Industrial Age: “The [insert ethnic group]s are corrupting your children”
    The Modern Age: “The Reds are corrupting your children”
    The Internet Age: “The [insert entertainment medium] is corrupting your children”

  15. gorckat says:


  16. Moosehawk says:

    That picture sickens me. Who would let their kid get THAT big?

  17. …I love the first amendment. I really do. In almost all circumstances I hold it up and shove it in peoples’ faces…

    …but stupid people keep breeding. Stupid people who don’t ever put their foot (foots? feet?) down and say “NO!” to their kids, and its destroying an entire crop of children.

    Sooo…until we have some sort of forced-sterilization program in place for people who can’t pass a test I make up and implement, I don’t think that companies should be free to target parents and children wantonly.

  18. geekfather says:

    If I can’t tell my kid, “No,” and have it stick, I have failed as a parent.

    I don’t care how many times they see it advertised or how often they ask for it, parents (SHOULD!) still make the rules.

  19. enm4r says:

    It’s a voluntary withdrawal of ads? I don’t see a problem with that.

    Maybe we should treat treat junk food ads like cigarette ads…

    No, that ads we should treat like cigarette ads are prescription drug ads.

  20. geekfather says:

    BTW, the increase in childhood obesity and the rise of diabetes is the fault of high-fructose corn syrup that your government makes sure is cheaper than sugar.

    It’s not about health, it’s about money.

  21. ncboxer says:

    I think people are looking in the wrong area for an “answer’ to the increased rate of childhood obesity. I personally think it is not necessarily what kids eat, but how much exercise they get. I remember when I kid I played outside all the time. Nowadays kids would much rather play video games or watch the 15 channels that have all day cartoons. You have to force your kid to go outside and play.

  22. swalve says:

    The dose makes the poison.

    The people that let their kids get that big and who feed their kids “junk” food regularly aren’t going to be dissuaded by anything we do to stop them.

  23. Art Vandelay says:

    The main concern of these studies and advertising to children isn’t necessarily from traditional media. The concerns are from materials given to schools that are branded/sponsored by a junk food brands, like M&M coloring books, or a counting dvd sponsored by Coke.

    What’s even funnier, is that when junk food is pulled from schools, a black market emerges overnight and candy and sodas persist.

    Eliminating ads is pointless. They should be limited, yes, but true changes must come from the home and parents. Parents must purchase nutritious food for their children, in addition to teaching how to eat healthy, both in portion size and food choice.

  24. TVarmy says:

    I think parents do have a big responsibility to tell their kids how to eat healthy. However, child advertising undermines these lessons and confuses kids.

    The same goes for liquor ads. Luckily, liquor is only advertised on late night and prime time TV, when Mom and Dad are likely home and watching, and probably when the kids should be sleeping. The same should go for unhealthy food.

  25. 7livesleft says:

    @ncboxer: Not necessarily(?) force them out, but make it dificult for them to want to stay inside. Kids hate having to work for TV time. But then again, you’d have to keep them in your yard to make sure they weren’t running to Bobby’s house to watch TV.

    Parental dicipline is being replaced by redirected blame. The parent is the boss, not the kid.

  26. sleze69 says:

    @A.Twafeletta: We are not talking about free speech, or banning fast food. We are talking about limiting a specific advertiser to a specific audience.

    That is exactly what free speech protects.

    Let the parents learn how to parent by having insurances refuse to cover the morbidly obese. Personal responsibility and natural selection will take care of everything.

  27. Ray Wert Jr says:

    I say we go one step further and unilaterally ban children.

  28. camille_javal says:

    @ Beyond – yeah, pretty much.

    Something I find interesting with the whole cereal thing – cereal’s really not the problem here. Rice Krispies, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Cap’n Crunch range from 100-140 calories in a full cup. No, they’re not providing fiber, but a lack of fiber is only a tiny piece of what’s making kids fat. And at least, unlike cookies and the like, they’re enriched products. The only way cereal is a big part of the problem is when parents ignore their kids shoveling handfuls of it into their faces in front of the tube. But that’s just me rambling.

    I’m so damned glad not to be a kid now. I was skinny as hell up until the age of about 9, when I started to blow up. My mother even took me to Weight Watchers to help me with my eating habits when I was ten. Weight came off for a little while, but then puberty fought back with a vengeance, and it didn’t matter how much or little I ate. I was fat until I was almost 23, and then it fell off. No diet, no clear medical explanation (lots of tests done) – just lost about 80 pounds in a year and a half without really doing anything. It was pretty much connected with crazy puberty hormones.

    While a lot of kids are “out of control” with their eating and over-indulged by their parents, I have to wonder if some of this surge in weight, particularly around puberty, might not have some connection to all the hormones being packed into our food.

  29. nequam says:

    Is Michelin running some kind of cross-promotion with McDonalds? How else to explain the picture?

  30. Steel_Pelican says:

    @sleze69: “We are not talking about free speech, or banning fast food. We are talking about limiting a specific advertiser to a specific audience.

    That is exactly what free speech protects. “

    No, this would be a free speech issue, as is any government regulation on advertising. Freedom of Speech means I can say whatever I want, to whomever I want, wherever I want, whenever I want to. If the government tells Entity X that they cannot express Message Y to Entity Z, that is an obstruction of Free Speech. Just because we don’t like the speech – “Hey kids! Eat more Cheetos!”- doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve the same protection.

    If the government can limit who can say what to whom, that is not free speech, that is limited speech.

  31. Mike_ says:


    suggestible adj.

    Readily influenced by suggestion: suggestible young minds.

    suggestive adj.

    Tending to suggest; evocative: artifacts suggestive of an ancient society

    (You want the first one.)

  32. B says:

    @Steel_Pelican: Does this mean you’re in favor of allowing swearing and nudity on network television? Cause I’m all for that, too.

  33. DashTheHand says:

    I don’t care one way or another. Feed your kids what you buy for them. If you choose to make them little fatties, well thats your fault they get laughed at and are ostracized at school/in public.

    Of course its most commonly that the parents themselves are overweight. They either don’t care if they feed their kids junk food and fatty garbage because they also eat it, or if its easier for them to make and then get back to watching TV and playing online video poker.

    But another appalling trend is what parents will do for kids these days simply because they don’t want their child making a scene at the grocery store for not buying their spoiled brat whatever they are crying for. Most commonly its the mother as they seem to embarrass easier. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been standing in line and kid has had a tantrum for wanting candy and the mother eventually gives in just to shut their kid up.

  34. anatak says:

    I want to hurl every time I see that image. At what point do you realize you’ve failed your children as a parent?

  35. alhypo says:

    I don’t believe advertising is protected by the first amendment, so I’m certainly not opposed to a ban on those grounds.

    However, it will not do a damn bit of good. Children want these disgusting foods, not because of some ad, but because they have consumed the food previously. And since the food is so high in sugar and fat their brains release all kinds of opiates in order to reinforce the behavior.

    So I put most the blame parents who perhaps have no business having kids. If you are not in a position to raise you kids personally (instead of letting the TV babysit) and cook decent meals for them every day, then don’t have them. You are setting your child up for a difficult, lifelong battle with obesity otherwise.

  36. sleze69 says:

    @Steel_Pelican: I quoted him incorrectly. Free speech protects the advertisers’ rights to promote unhealthy food any time.

  37. I think parental responsibility is the key. Parents simply have to learn to say “no” to their kids. If I bought everything my boys wanted, they’d be 300 lbs. Besides, where would we draw the line? I mean there’s lots of fat grownups out there too!

  38. Steel_Pelican says:

    @B: I’m all for swearing and nudity, period.
    @alhypo: I’m pretty sure there is Constitutional precedent that separates advertising from protected speech, but I think that’s a tricky distinction. Could we censor Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion because it contains references to Dawkins’ other works, which could easily be considered advertisements for his other products? Or could we censor a controversial film because it includes product placement, and therefore could be considered advertisement? A musician’s album because it is an advertisement for their live show?

  39. Trai_Dep says:

    Perhaps a compromise? Legislate that, sure you can spend $billions marketing to kids w/ undeveloped minds. But ONLY obese kid actors. >2x normal body weight, say. Midwestern kids, in other words.*

    Every bullet those perveyers of high fructose corn syrup fires would end up hurting themselves. Plus, truth in advertising!

    * k-i-d-d-i-n-g!

  40. B says:

    On the first amendment thing, the Supreme Court has answered this question for us. When they struck down McCain-Feingold, the supreme court ruled that advertising is protected under the first amendment.

  41. Moosehawk says:

    @trai_dep: Hey now, I take offense to that. We aren’t all little chubby-lumpkins =(

    Why not pick on Texas or something? Aren’t they the fatest state in the U.S?

  42. Denada says:

    While I’m a big advocate of parental responsibility (my parents watched what I ate when I was a kid and -gasp- I didn’t grow up obese) I voted yes because the fewer lame McDonald’s commercials I have to see the better. Seriously McDonald’s. You’re not cool. Just let it go.

  43. offyournut says:

    Personal responsibility sounds great and everyone agreeing that parents need to take care of their own kids would be great, if only they would do so. Stupid people have kids, hell the stupider they are the more kids they have. Many, many parents are too lazy or too stupid to actually exercise personal responsibility. Kids probably should not be eating these foods, and here’s the kicker, even if their genius parents don’t think its a bad idea. Kids have a hard time differentiating between advertising and entertainment up to about 8 years old, limiting advertising to them is not really a big deal.

  44. Art Vandelay says:

    @sleze69: There’s a difference between commercial speech and political speech, and one most definitely can be limited by time, place and message. Guess which it is?

  45. Steel_Pelican says:

    @B: I believe McCain-Feingold (officially the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002) refers specifically to political campaign advertising, and how that advertising is funded.

    And from what I understand, the SC upheld most of McCain-Feingold in McConnell v. FEC.

  46. Art Vandelay says:

    @B: I hate to double post, but that’s political advertising, which is seen as political speech. Very different from commercial advertising.

  47. acambras says:


    Interesting, too, is the reported trend toward earlier onset of puberty in today’s kids — some of them are reaching puberty years earlier than their parents’ or grandparents’ generations. It used to be that the average age for girls’ first periods was around 12 years old — now it seems that a lot of girls start around age 9 or 10. Of course that may be because menstruation is related to body fat percentage — if anorexics’ periods can stop, it goes to follow that obese girls’ cycles might start early.

  48. muckpond says:

    here’s my thing, and argue with me if you want. it’s HARD to eat healthy on a limited budget. and “they” have made it incredibly difficult to find products that are actually nutritious and beneficial.

    “100% whole wheat bread!” the package says. “high fructose corn syrup” is still in the ingredients.

    “all natural fruit juices!” the label reads. “high fructose corn syrup” is in the ingredients.

    what is being put INTO the food is ridiculous, and that’s where change needs to start. even moderately-educated individuals who are able to afford “healthy” foods don’t realize the amount of crap that they are eating. you go into your local Kroger and find ONE loaf of bread that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it. you might be able to do it, but it would take 15 minutes. add a couple of kids in the cart, and it’s no wonder people can’t figure out what’s in the food they eat.

    stopping these ads is a total farce. it’s a marketing ploy and will have negligible results.

  49. muckpond says:

    ps — next month i’m buying myself a box of crunchberries for my birthday. oh HELLS yeah. i do it once a year and, frankly, i look forward to it more than a cake. i’m no angel. but at least i KNOW that it’s full of crap.

  50. queen_elvis says:

    I voted no, not because I have a problem with a “nanny state” as such, but because banning junk food ads (or controversial literature, or behaviors deemed un-Christian, or whatever) doesn’t help kids learn to make their own decisions. What happens when they go to college? Some people eat lots of crap because they CAN. Mission very much not accomplished. This is a job for hands-on parenting, which means we need to acknowledge that adults have an obesity problem too instead of just pouring all the pressure onto kids.

  51. The Walking Eye says:

    @acambras: That’s a rather large leap to take. IANAD, but I’m pretty sure the reason anorexic’s periods end is due to their lack of food intake, not body fat. Their bodies go into protective mode to conserve as much of the body as possible, and the period is a good bit of blood loss, with corresponding nutrient and energy loss, each month.

    Adding to my original post, it’s also very much the “American” (or more simply a technologically advanced) way of life causing the “epidemic” of obesity. We don’t take the time to prepare our food and take convenience over healthy all the time. All western countries have gotten fatter, but we’re the ones in an epidemic.

  52. Coder4Life says:

    Did anyone mention, how fat that kid looks in the picture.

    I hope that was a photo shoot and not real, because his parents have some major revamping to do that lil terd.

  53. legotech says:

    @roche I can’t believe you’d want them to advertise BOTTLED WATER, what kind of environment hating resource wasting nut are you???


    Actually, I think I read somewhere that someplace like NYC is trying to ban bottled water due to the overwhelming amount of trash derived from the brazillions of little plastic bottles.


  54. endlessendres says:

    this will just lead to the advertisements being moved from TV to more intrusive forms, such as at School.

  55. whinypurist says:

    I guess most of the commenters here are planning on being dead before these guys health problems are affecting everyone’s access to health care (or personal space on public transportation)? Maybe the market will take care of it, but even that doesn’t mean that you, Mr./Ms. Personal Responsibility (or I) won’t suffer unnecessarily in the process. But (as Geekfather and others hint at, Michael Pollan writes about) government funding for agriculture is probably the place to start looking for real solutions.

  56. banned says:

    Letting your children become fat (if not medical related) is neglect and should be criminal, regardless of advertising. If they come to your house and give it to you free, it is still YOUR fault as a parent for feeding it to them. I have finally decided to vote no.

  57. camille_javal says:

    @muckpond: yes. yes yes yes.

    My parents went through a period where they were dirt poor a few years ago. Layoffs, etc. – lost everything. They were living in a place that had a microwave and nothing else. They couldn’t afford to eat healthy food. They were living off the Wendy’s dollar menu (mind you, not getting fat, because they would split two items from the menu between them).

    When they were getting back on their feet, they lived in a poor part of New York, near a McDonald’s. They knew a lot of people who would eat there, sometimes with their kids, between their first and second jobs of the day. Not only is healthy food expensive – it’s time-consuming.

    One thing my dad commented on – sometimes Burger King would have those dollar-Whopper specials, so they’d each get one of those, and despite its being huge and momentarily disgustingly filling, he’d be *starving* a couple hours later. It was the sort of feeling he associated more with eating sugar on an empty stomach or something (we’re both a little hypoglycemic), but not “meat”. Ick.

  58. Steel_Pelican says:

    @The Walking Eye: “…it’s also very much the “American” (or more simply a technologically advanced) way of life causing the “epidemic” of obesity.” There’s an interesting argument out there (not necessarily my own) that says our obesity “epidemic” is simply the result of our evolution.

    Up until very recently, it made a lot of sense to eat as much as you could, because food was scarce. Therefore, the genes that cause gluttony would propagate, just as the genes that cause lust. Gluttony and lust are evolutionary advantages, because in a non-technological world, they increase a population’s chances for survival.

    The invention of birth control allows us to indulge our genetically-programmed desire to breed incessantly without too much consequence. However, technology hasn’t allowed us to indulge our genetically-programmed desire to eat whenever we get the chance, consequence-free.

    Again, it’s an interesting argument, and one that I don’t necessarily subscribe too.

  59. Steel_Pelican says:


    Exactly. Convenience first, freedom second.

  60. camille_javal says:

    @The Walking Eye: I think there is a connection to body fat – female athletes also lose their periods sometimes.


  61. kaikhor says:

    I’ve got a small child who is “on the edge” according to the doctor (that’s her genes, by the way. Her dad is the exact same way). Because of it I have to keep her off of things like juice (she’s allowed 1 glass day, then off to water) and junk food. I know it’s my responsibility to make sure she doesn’t eat too much junk. Whenever she is watched by others I make sure they know the rules.

    That said, I still voted to ban the commercials. My daughter isn’t old enough yet to be effected by these, but in a few years she will be. I don’t want to listen to her complain and whine about how she wants this. I won’t give it to her, but I don’t want to hear it either. Please take it off our kids television shows, for the sake of the parents who do not want to listen to their child and have a fight (even if the child won’t win)

  62. The Walking Eye says:

    @camille_javal: Crap, forgot about that. Yes, there is correlation to lower body fat but I’ve not seen any papers going the other way.

    @Steel_Pelican: Yes, I’ve heard that too. It is quite interesting and supports the sedentary lifestyle part of the equation. But it all still boils down to our individual choices.

  63. llanim says:

    Commercial speech is not protected, at least inasmuch as you do not have a right to advertise. Or put another way, you cannot compel a television network to sell you time to promote your product. So why are these complaints not leveled at the kiddie channels that sell advertising to junk food companies? I think that would be a worthwhile campaign. They clearly already have a list of companies they won’t sell time to during children’s programming — booze, smokes, birth control, viagra, etc. — so why don’t concerned parents lobby the stations to stop selling space to products that damage their children? And at the same time, ask them to defend the choices they do make. That seems to both keep the government out of it and would be a sign of parents taking responsibility for their children’s health.

    On a related, more general note, I think the idea — expressed in many posts above — that parents are the only ones with any culpability in the obesity of children is absurd. Advertising is not benign. It is not ineffectual. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that works. People see ads, people buy products — it’s that simple. Not all ads and not all products appeal to everyone, but they all work for some. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be on the air. And ads targeted at children work better than most. When people demand parental responsibility above all else, they are asking individual parents to resist the full force of the billion dollar junk food advertising industry. One against thousands, and those thousands are pros. That seems to me an unfair fight and helping parents out by requiring some responsibility on the part of the advertisers (or the channels) does not seem a ridiculous idea that would threaten the very foundation of the country.

    And hell, even if you are going to just yell “free speech, free speech” in your defense of Doritos, keep in mind that the supreme court repeatedly treats children differently than adults in deciding free speech cases. Those decisions usually mean kids don’t have the same free speech rights as adults, but the principal behind them is that kids require guidance and protection. They are a special class of the population. I think limiting access to influence them is not out of line with current judicial thinking.

  64. MeOhMy says:

    I would interpret a “unilateral ban” as the producers of these products standing up and saying “we want to help by doing this.”

    Joining a moratorium “in the face of regulatory intervention, lawsuits, and a forthcoming government study on childhood obesity,” is hardly unilateral. Shutting up because you will probably be sued/censored is not much different from being censored.

  65. kaikhor says:

    @kaikhor: Oops, I meant “they don’t want to listen to their child whine and have a fight”…we should really listen to our children…

  66. enm4r says:

    @camille_javal: Not only is healthy food expensive – it’s time-consuming.

    Oh please. It might be expensive to eat the ideal, perfectly balanced diet. But it IS NOT more expensive to eat healthier than fast food burgers/fries/fried food. I’m not even considering the convenience factor, if you’re too lazy to cook some fairly simple/cheap/moderately healthy meals, that isn’t going to change. But with the amount of money people spend eating McDonalds, Popeyes, Burger King, etc is ridiculous. Who has the stats on how often the average American eats out?

    Is it expensive to have a “perfect” diet? Yes. Is it more expensive to eat healthier than most people currently eat? No.

    That’s the point.

  67. Ncisfan says:

    It’s called personal responsibility. Mc Donald’s serves junk food if you wanna be fat eat there every day If you want to be healthy eat there every once in a while but not all the time. also the parents should make their kids work out instead of playing X-Box all day. so I’m sure That its both the fault of the kids and parents.

  68. 7livesleft says:

    @Denada: You might have the only reason I would have voted yes.

    @kaikhor: There’s no need to fight your child over complainig that she wants fast food. Simply put, say no, and tell her it’s final. Any more complaints ends up with no TV and sending her to her room. A couple rounds of that and the fight is over.

    As a parent, I have a responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of my child. Having to expose my son to the world in mundane things is tough enough without giving him something extra that is bad for him. If fast food is this dificult for parents of young children, imagine the pain the parent will have to endure when their child becomes a teenager and has to deal with tobacco, drugs, underage sex, alcohol, and all those fun things.

    Take charge now or you’ll never have a night’s rest.

  69. I’m not even considering the convenience factor…

    @enm4r: Of course not because that would kill your argument. It’s much easier to assume that people working multiple jobs are just lazy. It couldn’t possibly be because they don’t have the time.

  70. enm4r says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    No, it wouldn’t kill my argument. If you’re going to be lazy, you can eat healthier than McDonalds, Popeyes, and Burger King. It doesn’t take much effort to eat HEALTHIER than fast food. I’m not talking about spending 2 hours on a meal. I could probably eat healthier, spend 20 minutes a night in the kitchen, and save money over eating out. If you want to really break it down, I’m saving hypothetical time taken in the drive through, or walking into the restaurant, so the net time increase from cooking at home is much lower.

    I find it hard to believe there is a statistically significant percentage of the population that cannot take 15-20 minutes out of their day to eat a healthier, cheaper meal. The rest are lazy.

    But for clarification, in the context I originally was using that statement, I was stating that we can operate under the assumption that you are too busy/lazy/apathetic to cook more food at home than you are currently. Even operating under that assumption (I’m too busy!) it is possible to eat healthier than the the big 3-4 fast food chains.

  71. Steel_Pelican says:

    You do have a right to advertise. I can stand on a street corner and say “buy my CD!” as much as I want. However, since most advertising space and airtime is owned by businesses, those businesses have no legal compulsion to allow you to advertise on their space/airwaves. Just like they have no compulsion to allow you to speak your mind on their space/airwaves. When the government gets involved, and says “even though the owner of these airwaves sold you this time, we won’t let you say what you want.” that’s a violation of the advertiser’s and the station’s First Amendment protection.

    And the truth is, parents ARE the only ones culpable when it comes to a child’s eating habits. They buy the food, and they teach the habits. Junior can want a bag of Doritos more than he wants life itself, but if Mommy doesn’t buy it for him, Junior doesn’t get to eat Doritos. Parents get all the help they need from the government with the government-mandated nutrition information printed on every package of food.

    Lastly, children have mostly the same Free Speech rights as adults. There are a few exceptions (appearing in pornography is a big one), but on the whole, the 1st Amendment doesn’t care how old you are. Perhaps you’re confused by the Court’s decisions about a minor’s First Amendment protection within the school system, which is more complicated.

    Let’s fight capitalism with capitalism, and let’s fight government with democracy. If you have a problem with a station selling it’s advertising time to companies you don’t support, be a good capitalist and boycott. If you think McDonald’s is poisoning your kids, stop giving McDonald’s your money. It’s that simple. Don’t get the government involved because the evil advertisers are just too much for poor Janey Housewife to compete with.

    There’s a very, very powerful weapon against TV ads, more powerful than a boycott, a law, a Constitutional amendment, or a Papal Bull. It’s called the power button.

  72. Scott says:

    I said no. Partly because I have a libertarian streak but mostly because children will be exposed to advertising for the rest of their life. Advertising works by convincing you that you want something but if you never learn that you’ll never be able to resist advertisements.

    I’m young enough to remember begging for some new, sweet cereal and I occasionally got it. But I also got oatmeal, from scratch pancakes and waffles, French toast, and Cream of Wheat. I was much more likely to get some fresh, homemade cookies than a candy bar. Point is, parents are the deciding factor when it comes to what kids eat, not some animated animal. Interesting thought, do kids want to buy auto insurance because they have an animated gecko?

    And what’s with all the kid related issues here lately? They seem to be splitting the readership more than other issues.

  73. Wally East says:

    I think the idea behind banning the ads would be to protect from their parents.

  74. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @enm4r: When we talk about cheap unhealthy food, we’re not just talking about fast food chains. We’re talking about Hamburger Helper, mac-n-cheese, ramen noodles, frozen burritos and pizzas, which are all easier and faster than making things from scratch, and which all have preservatives, unnecessary sugars, extra fats, and twice your daily requirement of sodium.

    We’re talking about how marinara made from scratch may or may not be more expensive than the stuff that comes in jars, depending on the quality of ingredients you go for, but making marinara takes a hell of a lot longer than putting a jar of red stuff in the microwave — and for that time you saved, you get way way WAY more sugar, salt, and fat packed into what seems like a “healthy” meal that technically qualifies as “cooking at home,” but provides few of the benefits we associate with that idea.

    Pre-packaged foods are often cheaper and definitely easier than cooking from scratch. You’re not only failing to consider time investment, you’re also forgetting the physical and emotional fatigue caused by working menial jobs and raising children at the same time. It’s not “lazy” to try to conserve energy when you’re exhausted.

    You’re also forgetting that, with all the extra sugar and fat, junk foods or crappy pre-packaged foods deliver a real kick of energy up-front for tired people, plus a feeling of satiety that you probably wouldn’t get from a salad unless you ate five pounds of it.

    There are many, many reasons that people eat poorly, and “laziness” is not one of the more significant problems.

  75. Steel_Pelican says:

    I agree with you in principal. I think it’s short-sighted and condescending to say that people eat junk food just because they’re lazy.

    However, personal accountability is a cornerstone of liberty, and if we cannot accept that every adult American is responsible and accountable for what they feed themselves, then we are asking Big Brother to make the decisions for us, to protect us from our own hectic, busy lives.

    I am a busy person, and 90% of the time, I choose convenience over my health. Sometimes it makes me feel better to blame my culinary indiscretions on my exhausting job, my busy romantic relationship, or my hobbies. And this comforts me for a little while, but the truth is I’m making a choice. I choose to eat Pringles for dinner, because I’d rather play video games than cook. But at the end of the day, I don’t have anyone to blame for my expanding waistline than myself.

  76. enm4r says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: If you’re looking to include all the prepackaged foods I would say that 1)while prepackaged foods are not as healthy as 100% organic prepared from scratch alternatives, a perfectly healthy diet can include Ragu, Hamburger Helper, and a frozen Pizza now and then. Those need not be eliminated.
    and 2)if you’re taking (even the small amount of) time out of your schedule to make Hamburger Helper, the time excuse is no longer a factor. Which means there is something healthier you could be eating, but are choosing not to, in the same price range.

    I think now we’re touching on a larger issue, which is education and frankly, people caring. People don’t care to learn alternatives, so they don’t. For the time invested in the hamburger helper, you could have thrown some vegetables in a pan, cooked them up, had some rice going in the background, and in 20 minutes you’ve got something that cost little more than Hamburger Helper, went through almost the same exact steps, and took the same amount of time. People don’t care to try it, to think about it, or to seek out alternatives. That is the type of laziness I’m talking about.

    I think the point missed here is that no one is saying the only alternative is to go 100% natural, organic, and freerange meats. For a negligable change in effort/time, much healthier foods can be eaten.

    Of course no one has mentioned physical activity, because EXPECTING someone to actually move a mussle or two everyday would be ridiculous.

  77. savvy says:

    We protect children from other forms of entertainment that are bad for them… porn, violence, alcohol and tobacco advertising, etc. Why can’t we protect them from advertising of food products that are detrimental to their health? We wouldn’t let a gun manufacturer advertise to children.

  78. Steel_Pelican says:

    @savvy: We protect children from these things, not the government. There are no laws that keep pornography off of Saturday morning TV. The FCC protects the airwaves with regulations and fines – not laws. The only thing that keeps it off of cable, satellite, and fiber optics are corporate interests- good old fashioned capitalism.

    Advertising tobacco and alcohol to minors is illegal because selling tobacco and alcohol to minors is illegal – not because of health concerns.

  79. whinypurist says:

    @Steel_Pelican: Not that my post was particularly well written, but based on your response to it, I take it you aren’t familiar with the farm bill and its effects on the market, as written about extensively by Michael Pollan. It’s hard to advocate for a free market approach when the market is being weighted towards certain products, right off the bat.

  80. jdwh212 says:

    I think this fall squarely on the parents/guardians of these kids. I was raised when none of this crap was cared about, was fed meat and potatoes and my parents monitored my sweets. I turned out a very healthy 145lbs & 5’8″ – maybe even too skinny for my height. It can be done.

  81. chimmike says:

    Since when are CHILDREN responsible for what they eat every day?

    They don’t run the household, pay the bills, or work to earn money, do they? How then, can advertising to them make a damn difference, if they don’t have any money to buy the bad stuff?


    Time to start blaming parents like we should have DECADES AGO.

  82. SaraAB87 says:

    Sorry, had to say yes to this one. Eliminating or significantly reducing the ads will make it easier for those parents that are parenting and trying to control what their kids eat and it will help those parents that should have never become parents in the first place because if kids see less ads for food they will want less of the food in the ads.

    Issues with kids are a very sensitive part of society these days thats why they are so talked about. I have to stand by my comments in previous posts that its american society as a whole to blame for child obesity and the fact that excercise opportunities such as playgrounds and free city and state parks are being removed from children and adults every time we turn around.

  83. etu001 says:

    I honestly feel that the fast food industry is not like Big Tobacco or the alcohol companies. Fast food is acceptable in moderation as with everything. An adult recognizes that smoking 4 packs a day is bad for their health and a child most likely cannot comprehend this. This is why there is a law limiting the sale of cigarettes to minors, since they are not capable of making a life changing decesion.

    Now if you look at fast food, yes these children cannot comprehend that fast food is not healthy, but it isnt illegal. Do you think that there needs to be a minimum age to buy a Big Mac?

    Couldnt McDonald’s argue that they want people to eat their food once in awhile? And that if John Doe is going to have fast food once a month, make it McDonalds over Wendys?

    Until I hear “I’m going to need to see ID” when ordering a Big Mac, I think advertising is acceptable.

  84. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @Steel_Pelican: I also agree with the importance of personal accountability, and I certainly don’t think junk food advertising should be banned. I’m just pointing out that it’s unfair to characterize everyone who eats unhealthy diets as “lazy” or “stupid.” It’s a matter of making choices based on your situation. If you work a lot more than 40 hours a week, if you have a very tight budget, or if your job is very physically demanding, the choice to eat unhealthy convenience foods starts to make a lot more sense: it’s fast and easy, it’s cheap, it makes you feel good temporarily. Yes, you’re accountable for your choice, and you’re responsible for the consequences, but that doesn’t mean that you have made the wrong choice according to your circumstances.

    Now, what I find disturbing these days is the disappearance of grocery stores from poor areas — the insurance costs are really high, so either you have high-priced groceries, or you move your store somewhere else and the people in that neighborhood are left with gas stations and fast-food restaurants. That’s another one of those factors that makes it more difficult for people to choose a healthy diet, and makes the choice of an unhealthy diet easier to understand.

  85. a_m_m_b says:

    @Steel_Pelican: exactly

  86. a_m_m_b says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: well said

  87. 7livesleft says:

    @chimmike: AMEN!

  88. Mom2Talavera says:

    I voted NO
    They can advertise to my child all the want but I’m the one that purchases the food for my family.
    Sure advertisers encourage pestering at the market..ect but in the end it’s the parents that buy the crap or pull into a McDonald’s drive through.

    Don’t pass the blame because your kid is a fat little bastard!

  89. MissDZ says:

    If you think this whole thing is ridiculous and that freedom of speech is in danger and that parents should actually monitor their kids instead of the state then you’re right. …but you also need to read books like Fast Food Nation. Because companies have been studying for years how to market to children and they’ve become really good at it. So it’s not entirely parents fault when the radio plays a catchy jingle and Ronald is smiling at everyone at the local playground and there are actual advertisements for golden french fries in your kids schools.

  90. Xenuite says:

    You know how you counter all that marketing as a parent? DON’T BUY THE DAMN FOOD. If I had whined like a little stuck up brat to my parents to get me to McDonalds I would have been spanked uptil my ass fell off. I guarantee that if you slap a kid when he starts a tantrum he will learn to stfu about fast food or become a tough little sob.

  91. nequam says:

    @Steel_Pelican: FCC regulations are laws.

  92. D-Bo says:

    I agree that their is a problem with the growing rate of obesity and the proliferation of advertising aimed at children is on the point of obscene. That said I had to vote for number two, parents are responsible for the health of their children. If my daughter asks for some cereal because she likes the character on the box, its my responsibility to tell her no, and to feed her what I think is healthy.

  93. Maurik says:

    Wow, I can’t believe people reading the consumerist are actually saying yes. The consumerist has always struck me as a very free-market orientated blog.

    In a way, they help consumers help themselves. We don’t need the government to help us consumers. often gives tips and advice on how to be responsible with your money and spending habits, surely the same goes for children!

  94. ingridc says:

    The socially responsible pat of me is inclined to vote “yes”; however, I take one look at that photo of the kid bursting out of his shirt like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and there is NO way he got that big without the help of his parents or guardians. Parents must take responsibility for kids that young, IMHO.

  95. tricknick says:

    I can’t believe anyone would want the government to regulate advertising, let alone anything like this. People in America no longer want to take responsibility for themselves or their children. The government controlling any aspect of our lives is just another step closer to fascism.