Are Fast-Food Ads Making Our Kids Fat?

So we all know by now that having our kids sitting around all day watching TV is a bad thing. They should be running around instead. Paying outdoors. Roughhousing with their dads. Anything, really, that doesn’t entail a couch-potato lifestyle.

Turns out there’s more to it than that. Yes, being sedentary causes obesity, but so too do all those television ads for sugary and fatty foods. According to a policy statement issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, those ads should be banned from television.

“We’ve created a perfect storm for childhood obesity – media, advertising and inactivity,” the statement’s lead author, Victor Strasburger, said in a written statement. “American society couldn’t do a worse job at the moment of keeping children fit and healthy – too much TV, too many food ads, not enough exercise and not enough sleep.”

It goes on to say that ads for junk food and fast food increases a child’s desire for these foods, and that we tend to snack more while watching TV. Late-night screen time can also interfere with sleep, which puts kids at a higher risk for obesity.

The statement recommends that parents help curb their children’s weight by discussing food advertising with them; monitoring their TV viewing; teaching them about good nutrition; and limiting their screen time. It’s solid advice, though it all seems rather obvious. The one part that really stuck out, however, is that kids now see 5,000 to 10,000 food ads per year, most of them for junk food and fast food, according to Strasburger. That’s a hell of a lot of crappy food footage. Yet another reason to turn of the TV and go for a walk instead (though my family usually ends up at the ice-cream shop – go figure).

(Photo: Digital Vision)

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