This is Why America’s Kids are Fat

I just read a great post by Lisa Newton (CEO of Iowa Avenue), in which she exposes the amount of marketing money spent to encourage your children to drink pop, eat cereal and get fat.

Summary of Lisa’s Post

  • Food producers spend $867,761,000 per year marketing carbonated beverages, breakfast cereals and snack foods to your kids.
  • In comparison, $65,938,000 (or 8% of the pop/cereal/junk food budget) was spent marketing dairy products, fruits and vegetables.

Here is the full list

youthmarketing1 This is Why Americas Kids are Fat

But wait, the government is taking steps to reverse the growth of childhood obesity.

Big government money.

“The Centers for Disease Control’s current annual budget for nutrition, physical activity, and obesity is about $41 million for Americans of all ages. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Team Nutrition, whose goal is to improve children’s eating and physical-activity habits, has an annual budget of about $10 million“.

  • $51 million?…..that’s it?

Let’s recap:

  • $867,761,000 per year spent on marketing carbonated beverages, breakfast cereals and snack foods to your kids.
  • In comparison, $65,938,000 was spent marketing dairy products, fruits and vegetables to your kids.
  • And the government spent $51,000,000 marketing healthy eating and exercise to your kids.

In total, just under 13.5% of the pop, cereal and junk food budget is spent on marketing healthy alternatives.

And we wonder why our kids are FAT.

easter bunny This is Why Americas Kids are Fat

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

16 Comments

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  4. davidmg

    August 18, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    You are right – we must help the kids. There is no doubt that the foundation of a healthy diet and weight control is the significant consumption of vegetables and fruit. Unfortunately, many adults do not like these fine foods – so we must make sure kids don’t develop these attitudes. That’s why I wrote “The ABC’s of Fruits & Vegetables and Beyond.” I hope parents and teachers interested in getting kids to develop friendly feelings towards fruits and vegetables should take a look at it. Out only a few months and already being bought in quantity for class use. I wrote it for kids of different ages as it is two books in one – children first learn their alphabet through produce poems and then go on to more mature activities. It is coauthored by best-selling food writer David Goldbeck (me) and Jim Henson writer Steve Charney. HealthyHighways.com

  5. orange_luv

    August 6, 2008 at 1:07 am

    I agree with u…the nutritional value of those food has been exaggerated by the manufacturer…We thought we feed them with the right meal but unfortunately not….

  6. nearlynormalized

    August 5, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    Take responsibility, take time and communicate what is going on…other wise you will lose your children.

  7. DR

    August 5, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Hey Tim,

    I did not, and would not, EVER say that the government solves problems.

    In it’s citizens best interests or not.

    They may SAY that they solve problems, but I would agree with you that this is a point of contention.

    Where I would disagree with you is whether we live in a true free-market system.

    In theory, possibly true.
    In practice, false.

    Also, the government may or may not have the right to “tell the people how to use their private property, which includes their income”, but they do it anyway.

    Income tax, undeclared wars in Iraq, pork barrel projects paid for with your tax dollars.

    My point is not that the government, (any gov’t) should tell it’s citizens what to do, but that it already does and that I believe that if obesity becomes an even larger social/political issue, they WILL step in and tax and spend to their heart’s content.

    There is a big difference between what’s right (morally and/or intellectually) and what actually happens.

    Hell, Ron Paul was ridiculed by McCain et al during the Republican debates for having the audacity to believe in and actually adhere to the constitution.

  8. Tim Rueb

    August 5, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    DR – Insightful

    “We can see increased taxes on junk food as a socialist plan to reduce the individual’s control over their own damn life, or we can see it as a way to keep other people from screwing up the economy.”

    It’s interesting how these post switch from the role of marketing and it’s function of product awareness in the advertising model to economies and the choices we make and how they impact our society. They are two different things but many like to use one to attack the other.

    First let me say this, I have found very few examples in which the federal government solved problems by ACTING in the best interest of the people. The federal government does best when it sticks to what it’s role is as defined by the constitution. In fact, I can’t put my finger on a single article of our constitution that gives the federal government the right to tell the people how to use their private property, which includes their income.

    “So, we can look at marketing junk food as a benign act or we can look at it as poor social policy.”

    and

    “To ignore the fact that the non-bootstrappers are becoming an ever increasing drain on society is ludicrous.”

    We still live in a free-market system. At least for a few more years. I prefer the market to correct itself rather then having a central government do so, as stated above, the federal government has a very poor track record of making strong economical decisions as apposed to political pandering or short sighted ones (read election driven pandering bills simply for means of getting reelected). To that end, to assume the federal government can solve any problem is ludicrous, it simply wasn’t designed to do that efficiently or effectively.

    If what you are saying is true, and the federal government has the right to tax certain advertising and/or foods because they deem it a social policy problem or national security issue, then why not just allow them to take it one step further. Caloric rationing. Have the government decide for us all, how much each person is allowed to have and when you reach your weekly limit you must come to a federal government counseling center (think of the jobs it will create!) and be re-educated on what you did wrong in their eyes, and thus are given a small allotment of caloric counts to keep you going until the next week. Wouldn’t that solve our marketing problems of targeting kids, as well as solving the economic and national security issue you assume will occur in the future if the market doesn’t correct itself?

    Maybe the next step would be not just how much but what …..

  9. Mark Salinas

    August 5, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Very insightful…thank you for the post!

  10. DR

    August 5, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    I had a feeling that this topic would evolve into a debate about social engineering or whether the government should step in and act “for the good of the people”.

    I think as a group, all of you lovely commenters are a bunch of “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” kind of people.

    However, with ever increasing numbers of obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, etc, blah,blah,blah, it’s obvious that a lot of people are not.

    To ignore the fact that the non-bootstrappers are becoming an ever increasing drain on society is ludicrous.

    So, do we ask the gov’t to step in and tax junk food while vigorously promoting a healthy lifestyle, OR do we give them a dose of tough love and let them sink or swim on their own efforts.

    It’s true that marketing junk food is not the sole cause of obesity; but it is part of the problem.

    An entire lifestyle of inactivity and poor food choices has been created through gov’t regulations, social planning, technological advances…and perhaps the systemic dumbing down of our society.

    Tim:

    On one hand, I believe that you are 100% correct. Marketers aren’t forcing people to buy junk food. We all need to be responsible for our own actions.

    On the other hand, as a society, we make all sorts of decisions that impact individual liberties and affect society as a whole. (Or rather, the gov’t makes these decisions for us – but that is an entirely different discussion)

    Speed limits, nutritional supplementation of milk and bread, jail time for criminals, taxes on gas, cigarettes and booze to reduce consumption, fluoride in the water, speed limits, digitizing Janet Jackson’s boob shield at the Super Bowl, tapping phone lines in the name of national security.

    We are told how to act and think every day in many ways (sorry for the alliteration).

    Some of us don’t need to be told to drive our cars at a safe speed or not to kill and decapitate our fellow Greyhound bus passengers or to stop eating Cheetos and Coke when we can no longer look down and see our feet.

    But when other people’s actions start influencing our lives in a negative way, people get pissed.

    We expect our gov’t to jail dangerous criminals.

    When someone blows past you on the highway going twice the posted limit, we all hope that the idiot gets pulled over and they take his license away from him.

    If this study turns out to be correct and that by 2030, 86.3% of American adults will be overweight or obese, how do you think this will affect the nation’s economy, military, health care system,etc?

    So, we can look at marketing junk food as a benign act or we can look at it as poor social policy.

    We can look at our neighbors as equals or we can realize that some people make poor decisions over and over.

    We can see increased taxes on junk food as a socialist plan to reduce the individual’s control over their own damn life, or we can see it as a way to keep other people from screwing up the economy.

    Obviously, parents should be able to say no to their children.

    But it seems like more and more people can’t even say no to their own lazy asses.

  11. McBloggenstein

    August 5, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    14-18 year olds drink Red Bull like it is water

    I’ve known parents that host a carpool for their kids and friends that often take to trip to the Starbucks drivethrough on the way to school for their morning frappacinos…

    Unbelievable.

  12. totaltransformation

    August 5, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    “I just read a great post by Lisa Newton (CEO of Iowa Avenue), in which she exposes the amount of marketing money spent to encourage your children to drink pop, eat cereal and get fat.”

    And it would all be rather meaningless if parents did their job and controlled their children’s food intake. Seriously, who is buying the groceries? Not the kids, or at least it shouldn’t be them. Parents have become pushovers for their children’s whims, and that is why investing in this kind of advertising works.

    Also, am I the only one a little concerned about the way 14-18 year olds drink Red Bull like it is water? Seriously, at 17 or so I didn’t need Red Bull for energy.

  13. MizFit

    August 5, 2008 at 11:39 am

    THANK GOODNESS that we, as parents, are still the biggest influencers.

  14. McBloggenstein

    August 4, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    I agree with you, Tim.

    …take hold because the targets are ill-informed or undisciplined to begin with.”

    This is definately the reason why the argument you mentioned doesn’t work.

    But what sounds easier? Making sure everyone is educated enough in nutrition to make healthy choices for themselves? Or just making a few more commercials for fruits and veggies, and a few less for happy meals and Lucky Charms?

  15. Tim Rueb

    August 4, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    If our kids are fat because of a marketing campaign, then your argument is true, the we simply need to spend as much as a certain industry and things would balance out. Or in other words, who ever spends the most controls the waist line of the nation. Sorry, that argument doesn’t seem to hold water, err fat.

    Education and personal responsibility start in the home. Marketing campaigns from unhealthy sources of food and drink take hold because the targets are ill-informed or undisciplined to begin with. We have become accustomed to a lifestyle, and that includes the consumption of information and opinion from outside a family unit.

  16. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

    August 4, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks for the wake-up call.

    Clearly, attitudes and priorities must change regarding healthy eating and exercise, just as they have regarding tobacco. I am not against informed choices, but only for adults. Children need guidance.