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Junk Food Marketing: How is it influencing your kids?

You may have heard marketers use the phrase ‘Get them while they are young’ when trying to attract new customers. But how young is too young?  Last year the fast food industry alone spent over $300 million to target children and teens as young as two.  The total amount spent marketing junk food products to adolescent and teen-age children?  $2 billion.

Companies selling junk food products are speaking to your children early and often, through a variety of media channels. Their messages are aggressive and relentless, aimed at influencing the dietary choices of society’s youngest consumers. Sugar sweetened drinks and fast food are the unhealthiest products marketed to children. These aggressive marketing strategies are an enormous contributing factor to the skyrocketing rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity among children.

Recent studies have shown that preschool-aged children who have been regularly fed foods high in sugar, salt, and fat, learn to recognize junk food brands and prefer these foods to healthier options. These preferences are often unchanged into adulthood. Preferring junk food to healthy meal choices has long-term health implications, as junk food lacks vitamins and nutrients critical for growth and development. Some studies have even shown a measurable drop in IQ points in children who ate predominately processed foods.

When parents allow marketers to effect how they feed their children, the results can be deadly. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even stroke—all diseases that once only affected middle-aged adults—are now impacting children. Young people must consume less calorie rich, sugar sweetened, and nutrient poor, junk food. Parents must monitor the amounts of junk food their children are consuming, and teach children healthy eating habits from a young age.

Junk food companies did get one thing right: if you ‘get them while they are young’ you will have a long-term impact on a child’s tastes and preferences. As a parent it is your responsibility to instill healthy habits while your children are young. Providing nourishing, truly healthy food will have both an immediate and lifelong impact on your child’s health.

To learn more about the dangers of a junk food rich diet contact Pediatrix, your Phoenix pediatricians. Make an appointment to discuss healthy eating habits and complete balanced nutrition for your child with a Phoenix pediatrician.




Subir K. Mitra, MD, FAAP

Posted in Blog on January 24th, 2012