Target Market…

My family and I are enjoying a family vacation over spring break this week so I won’t be posting any lunches.  Instead, I wanted to take this opportunity to write about something that has been bothering me for a while…how food is marketed to kids.  About a month ago I had to venture down an aisle of a grocery store I haven’t visited in a while.  You see, my local grocery store moved the almonds from the baking aisle to the “chips/pop” aisle.  On my way to their new location I walked through the cereal aisle where I noticed most of the sugar-filled, cartoon laden cereals were all at hip level or below…right where kids could see them and in turn beg for a box (or two).  Then when I turned into the chip/pop aisle I couldn’t help but notice just how bright and colorful the food packaging was.  Very inciting to little eyes!

This grocery store incident combined with the fact that I’ve noticed that just about every commercial that comes on tv during kids’ programming is marketing junk food to kids made me want to get some specific facts on this topic.  I did some digging and stumbled upon a great infographic created by the folks over at teach.com.  The statistics shown below illustrate the degree to which our children are exposed to and encouraged to consume foods filled with sugar, calories, and other “junk”. These commercials also often mislead our children into believing these foods are somehow healthy and good for them.

 

Brought to you by Teach.com and MAT@USC.
 

This is a good reminder to myself about why I do what I do.  My children are constantly bombarded with images of bright, colorful, playful looking food that looks delicious and fun to eat.  While I do think there is value in allowing my kids to enjoy a special treat every now and again, my goals is to help them develop a taste and preference for nutritious and wholesome food.  When my family first made the transition to making better food choices the only way I could get my youngest son to try new foods was to cut them in shapes or place them in colorful containers (which is how this blog came to be).  Knowing what I know now about how food is marketed to kids I understand why!  

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4 Responses to Target Market…

  1. Juli P says:

    This is sad to read!
    We spent a few days at the waterpark on vacation last week and I’d have to say that 2 out of 3 children there were obese and don’t even get me started on the number of adults that were obese. It was a shocking eye opener for us!
    and yes, for us it is all about allowing your kids to make choices and encouraging them to make better/good choices.
    We stopped at Target for some snacks at the hotel….I was so happy when my kids asked for carrots, watermelon and cantelope for snacks! and bottles of water and green tea to drink instead of juice or pop.
    small rewards for the hard work that we do as parents!

  2. Sara says:

    This post reminds me of a conversation I had with my 3-year-old in the grocery store. They had a nice big display of cheetos right by the check out lines. My son says “Hey, look it’s Cheetos.” I asked him where he learned what cheetos were, since I’ve never given him any, and he told me Grandpa (thanks, dad!). So we had a conversation about why we eat healthy food and why cheetos aren’t healthy, and why grocery stores put food near the check out aisles to try to trick people into thinking they need it. But that we were too smart for that, and we were going to eat our “growing foods.” My son is now 3 1/2, and he knows that special treats are not for every day, that “growing foods” are important, that exercise keeps us healthy. He only gets 30 minutes of TV a day, and it’s PBS shows on TIVO, with no commercials, and me there to fast-forward through the “sponsorships.” I know I can’t keep him in this bubble forever, but I hope I can keep him here long enough to really let they healthy habits stick!

  3. Teri says:

    I am troubled by the influence advertising has on children. My 19 month old asked for candy this weekend. He has NEVER had a piece of candy. He is limited to 20 minutes of TV in the morning and he must have picked it up from Super Why which is a PBS show. I agree with Sara. I think it will be hard to keep him in a bubble but I will try for as long as possible.

  4. Carissa says:

    Just stumbled upon your blog and I’m so glad I did! It’s so great (and rare) to find another blog who practices REAL healthy food (full fat items, using almond flour in place of wheat, no sugar etc)..

    This graphic depresses me and makes me SO SO SO glad that I made this healthy food change now, while my son is 3 months old and will grow up with healthy food options. Also makes me happy we don’t have cable, and never will!!

    I love your lunch boxes – how fun and creative!

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