Obesity and the Media Essay
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Although advertisers and the media have a huge impact on the issue of childhood obesity, the parents have the final call on what their children eat and don’t eat. It is the parents who give in to their children’s whining and give them what they want just to please them. Childhood obesity starts when the children are old enough to realize that they can get their way when they cry for something. It is the parents’ responsibility to lead by example and teach their children healthy eating habits at a young age.
If the parents have unhealthy eating habits and include fast food and fried food in their diet on a regular basis, it is likely that their children will do the same. Kids will get accustomed to eating whatever is made available for them in their home. It is the parents’ job to provide healthy snack options so that their children can get used to healthy habits at early ages.
When children are first attracted to the fast food ads at a very young age, it is often because they are attracted to the toys such as the ones offered in “happy meals.” Another reason why fast food is so popular is because it is a quick and easy meal when people are busy or don’t feel like cooking dinner. My solution to these issues would be to create a fast food chain that offered healthier options. That way, when people want to drive through and order something quick, they would be able to do so while still eating healthy. These restaurants would also offer children’s meals that include a toy, which would promote staying active, and eating healthy.
The advertisement that I created is for a healthy fast food restaurant called Chick-A-Dees. This restaurant would offer all natural foods, rather than deep-fried options. The ad uses bright colors and cartoon characters to get children’s attention. It also promises a toy with every kid’s meal and advertises a jungle gym for kids to play on when they come to the restaurant. If restaurants opened that made healthy food seem exciting and fun to kids, they would definitely be more likely to want to try it or even like it.
The advertising of toys that are included in kids’ meals at fast food restaurants is a main reason that young kids want to go to these places. However, there are many other toys for children that are advertised on television everyday, which encourage unhealthy eating habits. Among these are: the Easy Bake Oven, Popcorn Basketball, Smores Stick, Marshmallow Gun, Girls Gourmet Candy Jewel Factory Oven, 1000 Piece Candy Jigsaw, Counting Cookies, Mix and Match Doughnuts, and McDonalds Drive Through Food Cart. (The Toy Zone) All of these toys cause children to associate unhealthy eating with fun, which is a main contributing factor to the issue of childhood obesity.
The KidsHealth article makes a great point about how parents need to act as role models and demonstrate to their kids proper serving size, how to enjoy treats in moderation, and exercising regularly. This is so true; bad habits start when the child is very young, and over time they become more difficult to squash. The article mentions some habits that parents should get their kids used to such as: have regular family meals, serve a variety of healthy foods and snacks, be a role model by eating healthy yourself, avoid battles over food, and involve kids in the process. Regular family meals have a huge impact on preventing unhealthy eating habits. If the family makes it their goal to sit down for dinner together even 4 days a week, it would make all the difference. As the article titled Childhood Obesity states, “children are getting more of their food away from home.” Making family meals a regular part of the routine would prevent the family from turning to the easy option of fast food, or eating out at restaurants where they serve countless courses and portions that are much to big for one sitting. The KidsHealth website also suggests that parents stock up on healthy foods. Having fattening or sugary snacks available for kids to snack on when they’re hungry will only add to the issue. There are plenty of healthy and organic snacks that are really tasty also, and if kids get used to eating them while they’re young, they will never know the difference. Making sure your child has breakfast is also an important factor to a healthy diet, as stated in Childhood Obesity. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and necessary for a healthy metabolism.
The article pretty much covers all the issues and solutions that I would like to obesity in children. If I were to add something to it I would say that it is so important that parents are involved in their child’s life. This gets even more important as they grow into teens, so it should start when they are children. Parents should know if the child is having problems in school, trouble making friends, being bullied, etc. All of these issues can contribute to the child turning to food for comfort. Another idea that the article didn’t mention is parents buying their children toys that encourage healthy activity rather than laziness or unhealthy eating. Instead of buying a videogame or and Easy Bake Oven for example, get them things to play their favorite sport with. If the child isn’t into sports, and would rather play video games, encourage active games like Wii Fit or Dance games. Getting involved in the activity is a great way to encourage it.
I don’t think that the media has exaggerated the issue of childhood obesity in our society. It is a huge problem and we see it everyday, no matter where we are. The media needs to start promoting less of the unhealthy habits and show more advertisements for healthy eating and games and toys that involve activity. In order to prevent obesity and diseases that are linked to it, parents must encourage and demonstrate healthy eating habits as well as teaching their children to stay active. The prevention must start when the child is young, and remain steady and continuous as they grow.