Fast Food Advertising to Children
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In the early 20th century, advertising and marketing has greatly influenced people’s decisions into consuming different types of products which are manufactured by big or small corporations. There are various advertising methods which include the newspapers, magazines, flyers, TV programs, and most recently, the Internet has been observed to be a better way of manipulating American people in a way that encourages them to buy products and goods being advertised through these sources. Through advertising, many Americans have been able to make a decision on what to consume which in turn has brought up a negative impact on their lives like serious diseases like cancer, obesity and diabetes. Advertising in the American society has greatly affected the children’s health which has been threatened by fast food corporations and their marketing strategies. Fast food is the food which is prepared very quickly and is in most cases served through counters or even windows minutes after having placed the order.
TV programs are powerful and effective sources of advertising foods to children which in most cases specifically target American youth. Corporations have found that the most effective way of advertising foods to children is through Children programs on television. In the same research released by Yale University, it’s been reported that on average each American kid sees 4 fast food ads on the television (Yale University, 2011). Thus, TV programs have been useful for corporation to advertise their products which are harmful to the Americans as American children’s diet dramatically change due to the taking of an unhealthy diet. Since there are various types of ethnicity living in the United States, there exist specific TV programs for kids from different races. For instance, African American kids have their own programs on television or Hispanic children are being shown programs in Spanish language. As a result, this variety in TV programs has made it easy for opportunist fast food corporations to target specific ethnicities such as African Americans and Hispanics. Yoshiko (2010) in his article “Fast food ads target youth” argued that African American children were the most targeted by fast food corporations. He stated that “56 percent of black youth see more fast food ads than white and Hispanic youth” (Yoshiko, 2010)
According to the Statistics from Education attainment in the United States, only 16 percent of African Americans have had college education while 48 percent of whites have earned bachelor’s degree. According to Yoshiko, there is a direct relationship between our education and the type of products we consume. Education is very vital and if all the people were educated, they would be well informed and much healthier. The rate of education among African American or Hispanic population is much less than whites, fast food corporations target these two races more than whites or Asians. Thus, corporations spend much more on advertising through African American and Spanish TV programs as they consider that these two ethnicities don’t pay a good attention to their health and what they eat(Yoshiko, 2010).
The inequality of income and wealth in the United States has made the African Americans and Hispanics to be the most affected by the fast food industry. According to statistics from income inequality in the U.S., median income of Hispanics is the lowest and African Americans less than Whites and Asians. As a result, people with lower income would consume much more fast foods than higher incomes because of the cheap foods that chain restaurants offer. Therefore, low income parents would drive their children to fast food chains where they can buy a tasty fat burger for not more than 6 dollars; moreover, their kids would be entertained by toy lands that franchises such as McDonald provides to its customers (Kroc and Robert, 1992).
Schools are the most commonly used places by the fast food corporations to promote their foods among children. Many school districts need money to maintain their classes and offer more programs to compete with other districts, they end up accepting financial support and sponsorship from food corporations and in return of this favor, they are expected by these corporations to advertise and sell their products to students. As a result, foods from fast food corporations such as McDonald, burger King, Coke, and etc. can be seen in lunch menu of America’s public school. Because of the yearly financial support of these corporations, the schools have to remain loyal to the corporations and encourage their students to buy their food products. The schools distribute fast food coupons and discounts among students or even they celebrate one day of the school calendar as the day of supportive corporation. One of the examples of this loyalty and advertising can be found in the book “Fast Food Nation” written by Eric Schlosser (2001) in which he tells the story of “Coke Day” that a high school student wore a blue Pepsi T-shirt instead of a red or white Coke T-shirt while his peers were collectively posing the word COKE and photographs were taken. The student was prevented from attending his classes because of the incident on the “Coke Day”; thus, there are rules in schools that prevent the students from insulting the sponsor corporation.
Fast food advertisement to children through schools has transformed American children’s eating habit and diet in a destructive way that they have gotten used to the taste of fast foods. A research released by Yale University (2011) reports that one third of American kids eat fast foods every day from McDonald, Burger King, and Wendy’s. It is essential that the Federal government restricts the selling of unhealthy foods by the school districts from fast food corporations to the students; in addition, the schools’ funding should be regulated so that schools cannot accept any favors from food corporations.
The fast food advertising has become a controversial issue as number of diseases such as; obesity, cancer, low calcium and etc. have been increasing among all ages of Americans. As a matter of fact, a concern of the American society is how to stop these food corporations from advertising fast foods to children who would be victims of fast food advertising in the future. The government should intervene and try to stop and prohibit any kinds of fast food advertisements through children’s TV programs, web sites, and schools in order to protect the children of the years to come(Lehigh University, 1992).
In conclusion, many children are the main targets of fast food advertisement in the American society. The main reasons as to why many people prefer fast food is that it saves time, people can save money, they are fast, they are convenient when one is in a rush, one doesn’t have to get out of the car in cold weather, and there is no cleaning like washing dishes after eating. . Fast foods are generally not healthy since they have a high sodium content, saturated fat and lots of salts which are not good for an individual’s health. The government should put in measures to improve fast food advertising by restricting the advertisements on the TV programs, putting up regulatory laws to help prevent fast food corporations from producing and selling unhealthy foods to children, eliminating tax deductibility associated with television advertising, educating American parents about the consequences of unhealthy foods, and most importantly preventing the schools from advertising and marketing fast foods to students. Through this intervention by the government, serious diseases like cancer, obesity, and diabetes will be very rare among Americans. The health of the citizens is very important and the government should make sure that the citizen’s health is protected