Skip to main content

Some days, when I'm trying to take a break from people's tax issues, I come across something that scares the bejeebus out of me.  Yesterday was one of those days.

While trying to pare down my RSS reader, I clicked on this article from alternet.org that delved deep into the world of junk food marketing.  As someone who will be married in less than three months (yay!) and starting a family sometime soon after, my first thought was, "How do I keep my kids healthy with all of these bad influences?"

Turns out, the wizzes at the marketing firms have been hard at work for decades making sure that I can't avoid exposing my kids to this world of unhealthy, processed crap without taking drastic measures.  

My children won't be able to avoid this onslaught of commercialism.  The only option, then, is to severely restrict youth-focused marketing and change the way we, as a country, address food.

Flip to read more...

I want my children to grow up in a good environment, eating healthy food, playing outside, learning about themselves by experiencing the world around them.  Idealist?  Well, yeah.  But what does that take?  What do we, as current or potential parents have to do in order to really do our best for our children?  Are we talking about an off-the grid, Earthship, filtering rainwater for drinking, growing our own food kind of lifestyle?  At some point, we have to accept that detaching is the only way to truly avoid marketing.  For most, that's not really an option.  So we compromise.

Let's set the scene the way Jill Richardson, the article's author, does:  

Seven-year-old Marley loves Happy Meals from McDonald's. She used to get Chicken McNuggets, but now she chooses a cheeseburger to go with her fries and Sprite. Her father, Patrick, is a chef, trained at the Culinary Institute of America, but Marley prefers McDonald's to his cooking.

Before you start thinking to yourself that this youngster is just another victim of American commercialism, consider this: there is no television in this family's home.  Patrick unplugged it specifically to avoid exposing his daughter to McDonald's marketing.

Marketers understand that parents like Patrick, given the choice, would rather avoid McDonalds.  They'd rather cook something healthy at home.  It turns out that these parents are just as much a victim of marketing genius as their kids.

Approximately one out of three fast food trips occur due to a child's nagging -- a fact that does not elude junk food marketers, who advertise to kids with the very goal of getting kids to nag their parents for the advertised product.

Children are exposed early and often to brand marketing, creating lifetime brand loyalty as early as age two.(!)  They cannot differentiate between advertising and normal media content before age eight.  Even after they understand the difference, they still don't comprehend the influence marketing can hold over their decisions.  Marketers count on that ignorance, trying to influence children at an early age, before they can make their own choices.

It then, necessarily, falls on parents to help their children make those choices.  With the recent show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, in mind, can parents truly be effective advocates for healthy lifestyles when they're up against both calculated marketing campaigns and the USDA school lunch guidelines?

I'm sure you've all heard that this generation of children is the first to have SHORTER life expectancy than the one before it.  The cause?  Childhood obesity.  Underlying that is a nation of children who have grown up drinking juice drinks instead of juice, flavored milk instead of milk, and pop instead of water.  They eat chicken nuggets instead of chicken and french fries and tater tots instead of vegetables.  Some can't even differentiate between a potato and tomato.

Congress established the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in the 1946 National School Lunch Act and made it permanent by legislation in 1949.  Under the authority of the USDA, in 2008, the NSLP provided lunches for 30.5 million students each day.  School lunches must meet applicable recommendations of the 1995 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that no more than 30 percent of an individual's calories come from fat, and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. Regulations also establish a standard for school lunches to provide one‐third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, and calories.  The USDA reimburses schools $2.68 for each free lunch provided.

The lunches must meet these federal requirements, but it's up to local school authorities to determine menus and food orders.  The result is usually nothing short of pathetic, consisting almost entirely of corn dogs, tater-tots, chicken nuggets and pizza.  This doesn't have to be the case!  The Folsom Cordova Unified School District in Sacramento serves an enthusiastic clientele of 7,000 students freshly baked calzones, a wholesome version of pizza, veggie bowls, fresh fruit, sushi and taco salads. The food tastes great and lunch costs only $2.50 per student.  The district that previously lost about $200,000 a year in the school lunch program realized a profit of $300,000 with the new menus.

So, things can change and it's affordable.  

What's blocking progress?

Two major factors block our children's access to a healthy lifestyle.  Both of them involve moneyed interests.  The first is the complex and heavily entrenched world of federal agricultural subsidies.  The second is the above-mentioned corporate marketing campaigns, designed to wrap our children in brand loyalty like a warm, comforting blanket.  The federal government's regulation scheme is an underlying factor in both.

Farm Subsidies

Roosevelt’s New Deal introduced farm subsidies in 1933 after years of falling crop prices.  The intent was to stabilize the agricultural market so we wouldn't lose our nation's primary food production industry.  The threat back then wasn't that farmers weren't able to produce enough food.  In fact, during the depression, farmers were producing more supply than demand would support.  New Deal farm subsidies were meant to save farmers from a price crash.

Michael Pollan writes in the NY Times:

In Churdan, Iowa, recently, a corn farmer named George Naylor told me about the winter day in 1933 his father brought a load of corn to the grain elevator, where ''the price had been 10 cents a bushel the day before,'' and was told that suddenly, ''the elevator wasn't buying at any price.'' The price of corn had fallen to zero.

As time progressed, farms became consolidated in a few large corporations.  Those corporations are, by their nature, profit motivated.  If the government is willing to hand out free money to pad the bottom lines of these companies, it behooves them to position themselves to obtain as much of that money as possible on behalf of their shareholders and, further, to lobby Congress to adjust the structure of farm subsidies in the most favorable way possible.  Thus, we come to 2007, a year in which farmers received $5 billion in direct subsidies, 93% of which was for five crops: corn, wheat, upland cotton, soybeans, and rice.

Subsidies for these commodity crops encourage overproduction.  The difference between the 1930s and today is this: we've now figured out what to do with all of the surplus grain.  Corn sweeteners, cornfed meat and chicken and highly processed foods of every shade provide Americans with an unending supply of cheap, empty calories that we consume with great gusto.  Since 1977, the average American has increased daily calorie consumption by 200 calories.  That's 1400 calories a week; 5800 calories a month; over 72,000 calories each year.  It takes about 3500 calories to create a pound of body fat.  Do the math.

Youth-focused Marketing

Marketing to children is nothing if not easy.  A child lacks the experience to think critically about television programming and advertising.  Right now, thanks to a lax regulatory structure, companies that advertise to children largely self-regulate under the auspices of Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.  Companies that participate (note: participation is voluntary) pledge to shift at least 50 percent of their advertising directed at children under 12 to encourage "better for you" choices.

Self-regulation, as expected, isn't effective.  The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity examined children's breakfast cereals.  They used this sample because the majority of major cereal companies are part of the self-regulation initiative. The Center found that breakfast cereals marketed to children are, on average, the least healthy cereals available. Specifically, they contain 85 percent more sugar, 65 percent less fiber and 60 percent more sodium than adult cereals. The cereals marketed to children are so unhealthy that the United Kingdom would not allow any of them to advertise to children on television.

Congress stepped in, last year, and asked a group of Executive Branch agencies to draft non-binding guidelines for food marketing to children.  The Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission met and presented their results on December 15, 2009.  The group never considered that children are so vulnerable to marketing pressures that they shouldn't be subjected to marketing at all.  

Instead, it divided foods into categories with different levels of marketing restrictions.  Healthy foods such as 100% fruits or fruit juices, 100% vegetables or vegetable juices (that don't exceed 140mg of sodium per serving), 100% nonfat or low-fat milk, yogurt, 100% whole grain products and 100% water have no restrictions.  Outside of these categories, products must meet two criteria.  Essentially, the product must contain enough healthy components and sufficiently few unhealthy ingredients to qualify as marketable to children.  Healthy components may consist of ingredients the government considers healthy: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat free or low-fat milk, yogurt, extra-lean meat or poultry, eggs or nuts.  Unhealthy ingredients include the usual suspects, like saturated fat, trans fat, sugars and sodium.

But, beyond the fears that companies will reformulate products to fit within the guidelines without actually making them healthy, the question remains: should we allow marketing to children in the first place?  If a child cannot comprehend the persuasive intent of a television commercial until age eight or beyond, do we, as a society, have a moral obligation to prevent that commercial from airing?

Michele Simon, author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back, says, "If a child [under age 8] cannot comprehend the ad's persuasive intent, it is immoral to advertise anything to that child."

Eliminating and entire genre of advertising is not unprecedented.  We only need to look back to July of 1997 to remember that R. J. Reynolds voluntarily pulled its Joe Camel character from all advertisements because of the combined efforts of Congress, a lawsuit, and several non-profits.  The company never admitted to marketing specifically to children, but internal documents showed that the tobacco industry was interested in targeting children as future smokers.  In 1974, Reynold's VP of Marketing said, "young adult market . . . represent[s] tomorrow's cigarette business. As this 14–24 age group matures, they will account for a key share of the total cigarette volume – for at least the next 25 years."  During the first four years of the Joe Camel campaign, revenue from underage smokers grew from $6 million to $476 million.

Smoking from an early age deducts, on average, fourteen years from your life.  Severe obesity can shorten a woman's life expectancy by five years and a man's by twenty.  If marketing to children causes childhood obesity (a recent study found the link is directly related to commercials for unhealthy food; watching TV with commercials was linked with obesity but watching DVDs or educational programming without commercials had no effect on children's waistlines) that can reduce my child's life more than smoking and I can't do anything about it short of moving to the desert and shunning society, it falls on our governments, federal, state, and local, to eliminate youth-focused advertising.

What do we do?

Lack of strong government action leaves Americans with few options when it comes to helping their children learn to make good choices without the influence of marketing campaigns.  Parents can restrict TV and block internet content at home, but cannot control what their children are exposed to in their schools and at friend's homes.

The beginning of any campaign for progress is a collective effort to stamp out ignorance.  If you've watched episodes of Jamie Oliver's show (available on Hulu until June 5th, if you missed it) you've seen that a lot of parents don't understand the effects that nutrition can have on their children.  When a mother learns that the food she's been feeding her child has pushed him into a pre-diabetic state at the age of twelve, she's crushed.  It's heart-breaking to see a doctor have to tell a thirteen-year-old girl that she has spots on her liver and probably won't live past twenty.  When parents become informed, they jump on board, only to run into a bureaucratic roadblock at all levels of government.

Youth-focused marketing campaigns need to be regulated.  Americans need to come together to address these issues.  

Write to your Representative.

Write to your Senator.

Write to your state reps and senators, your mayors, your school boards.

Help me and all American parents raise their children in a healthy country.

Originally posted to Dave Marcus on Tue May 04, 2010 at 12:16 PM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Santa Clara California (4+ / 0-)

    is taking a stand against fast food advertising to kids.

    http://www.examiner.com/...

    If your comment is mean, I might have Sarah Palin sue you.

    by in2mixin on Tue May 04, 2010 at 12:26:08 PM PDT

    •  Decent start (4+ / 0-)

      Specifically, the new law prohibits restaurants from giving away toys with kids' meals that have more than 485 calories, more than 600 milligrams of sodium, more than 35% of total calories from fat, or more than 10% of calories from added sugar.

      Also, restaurants may not distribute toys with single food items that contain more than 200 calories or more than 480 milligrams of sodium.

      Something I addressed briefly, though, is that companies will alter recipes to shimmy around this type of restriction.  Add Splenda instead of sugar.  Shrink the meals, but encourage kids to ask for two meals to collect all the toys.

      There's always a way to bypass loose regulations.

    •  nanny statism (0+ / 0-)

      My kids loved "kids meals" w/ toys and they got one every 6-8 weeks or so.

  •  Best thing to do... (13+ / 0-)

    Get your kids used to the idea that nagging won't work. My kids (5 1/2 and 15) both try to nag but both have quickly learned that it won't work and, in fact, will backfire, so they don't do it much.

    We have insisted on a good diet and limited (not really THAT limited, but some limits) on TV all along. Of course we can't really control their tastes. I remember when my daughter, who had always LOVED broccoli, got told so many times on TV and by friends and even family members that kids hate vegetables that she suddenly decided she wouldn't eat it. Many adults send the message to kids that they won't like vegetables and it sinks in.

    But the good habits DO sink in. My 15 year old has come to appreciate the healthy lifestyle at home even if she wants more junk around and gobbles it when she can. But overall she has learned to be a health eater even if a tad reluctantly.

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. Read the PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT Newsletter

    by mole333 on Tue May 04, 2010 at 12:33:13 PM PDT

  •  What does it take (6+ / 0-)

    As a parent, I'd say the most significant factor getting kids to eat healthy is parental time and energy ... which is tough if both parents are working long hours.

    You have to shop more often so that you can buy food with a fairly short shelf life (i.e. fruit and vegetables).

    You have to take time to cook healthy meals instead of microwaving something because you just got home and everybody's starving and it's 6:00 already.

    You have to take time to pack their lunches if what the school serves is not adequate. And it does take some creative thinking to think of things that are tasty, cover a variety of food groups and will last for hours in a lunch box.

    Honestly, I think those things are a much bigger factor than food marketing. If you cook something healthy that they like, they'll eat it. But it's up to you as a parent to make sure you have the time and energy available to do it.

  •  I've thought for years that Ronald McDonald (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, cn4st4datrees, djrez, coquiero

    should be banned. Advertisers go after children with the same zeal as evangelicals and for the same reasons. Seducing them while they're young and impressionable increases the chances that they're lifelong devotees.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Tue May 04, 2010 at 12:45:29 PM PDT

  •  There's definitely a parenting component. (8+ / 0-)

    I've got three kids, one in college, two in High School. Allowed to watch TV, etc... But we fed them vegetables, and educated them about nutrition. None overweight (not genetics, 'cause I'm sure overweight), all eat good food. Sure, they sometimes eat fast food, but not often. They never nagged...of course nagging was always the one sure fire way NOT to get something around our house.

    Don't get me wrong, there is a problem, and parenting isn't always enough to make the difference, but there are very good reasons not to throw up your hands.

    "They paved paradise, and put in a parking lot."
    "...Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"
    - Joni Mitchell

    by davewill on Tue May 04, 2010 at 12:50:53 PM PDT

  •  Commitment and Persistance (5+ / 0-)

    My kids went through the toddler thing where they wouldn't touch vegetables to save their lives.  It was ugly for awhile.

    It's okay to back off for awhile.  I don't like this insistence that the world is going to end and children forever will be ruined if they don't eat vegetables every day of their lives.

    I would say there was a good two, three, maybe even four years where they didn't eat veggies.  I tried to keep the fruit intake high, gave them vitamins, and kept trying.

    Now (8,10 and 11) they all eat their vegetables, and secretly might even enjoy some of them.

    Fast food once in a while won't kill them, either.  Heck, I enjoy a quarter pounder from time to time.

    Marketing to kids will always happen.  I don't know that regulating it is going to change anything.

    Good diary, though!  Thought provoking!

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Tue May 04, 2010 at 12:51:22 PM PDT

    •  Moderation (3+ / 0-)

      Yes, fast food is fine once in a while.

      As to veggies, I have one who eats them just fine and another one who still won't eat any except for the occasional microbite of carrot. (He's 6.) He won't even eat that many fruits. I don't really know what can be done about it, other than waiting him out. It's been a long wait thus far.

      •  It sometimes takes a bit of salesmanship... (4+ / 0-)

        I'm not too proud to use cheese sauce to get broccoli down, if that's what it takes. Worry about cutting down the sauce later. The important part is to make sure the vegetables are fresh and tasty. Also, pay close attention to what he does like. Some kids react better to raw preparations, other like them cooked thoroughly.

        Number one is that the parents have to be eating them enthusiastically...any three year old can see through hypocrisy.

        "They paved paradise, and put in a parking lot."
        "...Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone?"
        - Joni Mitchell

        by davewill on Tue May 04, 2010 at 01:10:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero

      Good diary, though!  Thought provoking!

    •  Actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      djrez, coquiero

      marketing to kids is a relatively new phenomenon.

      Back int eh 70's--and I remember this well as this changed m y own chidlhood dramatically--marketing to kids was pretty tame. Until Star Wars. What most people don't recall is Star Wars was expected to flop, because it was just a film for kids. But it didn't. I recall as a little girl, standing in ever longer lines twice a weekend in the hot pavement in San Diego so my older brother could get his Star Wars fix. This went on all summer. But here's the catch: the iea of product tie-ins wasn't even invented yet. Why spend so much money on things marketed to kids? Kids have no money! Their parents do, so ticket sales should be enough, right?

      Though the lines for Star Wars were getting longer, there was no Star Wars toys on the shelves that summer. but they didn't take long to figure it out. And they made a mad rush to get everything from Star Wars action figures to trading cards to bed sheets to Halloween masks into the stores. And people bought them like crazy. Turned out that those kids who had no money could just whine until their parents, who did have money, gave in. By Xmas that year, my own house was a shrine to the newly fashion notion of product tie-ins marketed specifically to children.

      And it's just escalated since then, in any area of the market where parents are spending money on their kids, including food. Food marketing to kids has gotten unbelievably aggressive, from our TV to our school district food budget meetings. And I think we need to start drawing lines. It's lazy and irresponsible that we allow our society to become so polluted with advertising and marketing that intends only to make profit over against our own and our children's better interests.  

      -8.50, -7.64 "We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress." - Will Rogers

      by croyal on Tue May 04, 2010 at 01:14:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Give Me a Break! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        djrez

        You are wrong on at least two counts...

        marketing to kids is a relatively new phenomenon.

         

        I was raised in the 60's and marketing was extensive then two.  I guess you didn't have Burger Kings around  your area and never wore a Crown?

        Food marketing to kids has gotten unbelievably aggressive, from our TV to our school district food budget meetings.

        Can you give me an example of "unbelievably aggressive" TV food marketing that was not around in the 50's and 60's?

        I am also suspecting that any aggressive marketing at your School District meetings is the choice of the Board Members, parents, and tax payers and not the food companies.  Nobody forces a School District to sign a contract with any company.  They usually do it to save money.  So shame on them!  Sacraficing our kids for money.

        •  Money is indeed a large issue. (0+ / 0-)

          If you had a chance to watch Jamie Oliver take on the Huntington School District, you'd have heard all about the budget issues and why school districts choose cheap over healthy.

          What a lot of administrators miss, however, and something I mentioned above, is that healthy food can be cheaper.

          Either way, I'm not sure the exact timeline of the development of aggressive youth-focused marketing is the point.  Solutions don't care if the Mad Men of the 1960s or the ad men of the 1990s are responsible.

          As an aside - Burger King provided the crowns for our father-son "King's Breakfast" in elementary school.

          •  I Don't Feel That Marketing is The Primary... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            djrez, coquiero

            cause of childhood obesity.

            As a child in the 60's, we ate homecooked meals at every meal.  We didn't have money to eat out (neither did my friends and we were upper middle class) and rarely had prepared foods (TV dinners etc.)  But we also got lots of exercise and played outside and ran the neighborhood for hours and hours.

            Carbonated soda was rare and both soda and Kool Aid were served in 4 ounce Dixie cups.

            Saturday TV was filled with high pressure ads for fattening foods. Mom just didn't buy them.  And the foods that I "nagged" her for weren't advertised.  I was fortunate enough to have her buy and put "Banana Flips" in my lunch occassionally.  And homemade fudge and cherry pies weren't advertised either.

            Parents just aren't spending as much time on healthy meals anymore and it shows.

  •  My daughter watches TV. She likes sweets. (2+ / 0-)

    And she'd rather snack than eat a healthy meal.

    But I'm absolutely boggled that anyone would have a difficult time keeping their child away from a McDonalds, unless it was an economic imperative for them.

    Regards,
    Corporate Dog

    -----
    We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

    by Corporate Dog on Tue May 04, 2010 at 01:07:30 PM PDT

    •  It's not that simple for two-income families. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coquiero

      When mom & dad both work 60 hour weeks to keep the bills paid and come home at 7:30 pm dead tired to a houseful of hungry kids, it's so damned easy to pick up a sack of greasy burgers 'n fries on the way home, rather than cooking from scratch.

      And when adolescents have $5 in their pocket and are hanging out with their friends after school, it's pretty hard to keep them from sucking down a 64 oz. Mountain Dew™ and and half a pizza, especially when our corporate plutocracy leaves parents so exhausted, overworked and marginalized from what's 'cool'.

      •  "it's so damned easy" (0+ / 0-)

        That is the key.  It isn't that much harder to cook from scratch even if you work.  Slow cookers are great for working people.  And you can make a Caeser Salad in the morning or the night before.  No one said that raising kids wouldn't be hard work.

        Also, I have read that more than 50% of families eat in front of the TV.  That is also a big factor in bad diets.

      •  Sure it is. (0+ / 0-)

        My family's a two-income family. And on the nights where cooking isn't in the cards, a supermarket rotisserie chicken (paired with some microwaved green beans) is just as easy to pick up, half as expensive, and a boatload healthier.

        I'll walk back the comment a little bit, since I don't have teenagers yet, but if a little bit of "nagging" (as described in the diary) has parents completely rolling over for their kids, then those parents need to find a modicum of spine, before they have bigger problems than their kids' diets.

        Regards,
        Corporate Dog

        -----
        We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

        by Corporate Dog on Tue May 04, 2010 at 08:01:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (5+ / 0-)

    I've got a handful of kids. I make the decision about when we'll eat fast food, and it's practically never due to pressure from the kids. Our occasional visits are usually due to travel or unexpected meal delays while we're running errands or similar circumstances.

    Their views on fast food, as polled a moment ago: "Most of it is tasty but really greasy," - age 14. "It's too expensive," - age 17. "Ew, the knotty parts in the chicken nuggets," - ages 4, 5. "Anything on the menu at a fast food place is much better if it's made at home," - age 11. That last was echoed by all.

    They feel that homemade food is best, school food is simply tolerable, and fast food isn't too good at all. I figure having decent food at home to compare against has been pretty important to helping my children develop a discerning palate.

    Weathering Michigan's recessions since the '70s.

    by jennifree2bme on Tue May 04, 2010 at 01:22:28 PM PDT

  •  Yes I hate fast food and avoid McDonalds (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfdunphy, djrez, coquiero

    at all cost. I am concerned about what is being marketed to children too. The biggest annoyance to me was watching the Olympics. During the Olympics I saw the ad where the coach tells his girl's hockey team that "they had one goal" and "that's what they ended up with". Then he said that they were "going to eat like champions" by going to McDonald's. Sigh.

  •  Or, you could just feed them good food. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfdunphy, djrez, coquiero

    Perhaps other children aren't like me, but my parents fed me an ovo-lacto natural foods vegetarian diet, and I didn't like the junk my friends ate. Their bread had no taste to it, their cereal sucked, and when I was forced to eat junky stuff I just got hungry later for real food.

    I can't believe no one else could have the same experience I did.

    On Sara Palin: "That woman...is an Idiot." -- Keith Olbermann

    by allergywoman on Tue May 04, 2010 at 02:23:27 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    djrez

    I've been saying this for years.  If we don't allow tobacco companies to target kids with their marketing, why do we allow junk food companies.

    Don't forget the movie tie ins either.  There are already Burger King/Iron Man commercials on TV, and Iron Man will appear on cans of soda and bags of chips.

    Getting kids to eat less junk will be good for the environment also.

  •  Start early (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    djrez, coquiero

    I'd make my kids french toast when they were toddlers, with whole grain bread dipped in real eggs and then fried in a little butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and dunked into applesauce or yoghurt. They didn't know about syrup for years. So then I'd drip a little syrup onto the applesauce and that lasted until they were old enough to make their own breakfast.

    I'd make Tortellini Alfredo with cheese sauce and TONS of broccoli, more broccoli than tortellini. Dunk raw vegies in ranch dressing. Dessert on Friday nights only. So now my kids are 29 and 24 and are both healthy, not overweight and good cooks too. They only got junk food or McDonald's for special occasions and never got hooked on crap. Only let them eat school lunch one day a week and packed lunch the other days.

    I would make stuff on the weekend that insured leftovers for the week, both for dinner and for school lunch. Roast a chicken, chicken tacos (dinner) chicken wraps (lunch). I know it's hard to make good dinners when both parents work but a little planning and some weekend megacooking really helps and will give your kids a really healthy start. Good luck

    Try organic food, or as your grandparents called it, "food"

    by madame damnable on Tue May 04, 2010 at 03:03:28 PM PDT

  •  What's wrong with kids today? My brother ate (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    in the Trees, djrez, coquiero

    Fruit Loops becuase of Toucan Sam, Coco Puffs becuase of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird. I loved Captain Crunch, which I would add sugar to. We made our mother cook us hamburgers, but we didn't get them too often. We had bowls of ice cream for dessert, almost everyday. We ate Milky Ways and Three Musketeers. We all had cavities, but there wasn't one overweight kid on the block. What we did that kids now have to be compelled to do is engage in physical play. We played all types of ball and when we didn't play ball, we were playing army and running between blocks and throwing "dirt bombs" on each other. We rode our bikes everywhere. Soda was still in glass, so you couldn't carry it around and sizes were smaller. I feel for kids today. They really have be pushed into organized sports to get exercise.

    "The central tenet of Buddhism is not 'Every man for himself'" - A Fish Called Wanda

    by the fan man on Tue May 04, 2010 at 03:19:02 PM PDT

  •  Doc says: turn off TV & make your kids' lunches. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero

    These two steps get you about 50% of the way toward a healthier life for your children. It prevents their exposure to about half of all toxic junk food advertising, and concretely teaches them how to eat healthy.

    A corollary is to ban all soda pop and other sweetened (artificially or otherwise) soft drinks from your home, and to include fresh fruits and veggies with every meal.

    I also recommend having every child watch Supersize Me and Food Inc as soon as they are cognitively able to process them. Nothing like empowering teens and adolescents to feel some righteous rage and encouraging them to ridicule the evil corporatocracy that is poisoning them for profit.  

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site