Parents have a right to be concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic and the link to marketing food products to children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that obesity has more than tripled over the past 30 years, among children ages 6 to 11 (7% to 20%), and in teens ages 12 to 19 prevalence rates have tripled (5% to 18%).
While marketing sugary foods to children is thought to be a main culprit of this unhealthy trend, there are many additional factors that contribute. Sedentary lifestyle, and lack of exercise are also heavy contributors to childhood obesity. Personally I am of the parental-responsibility approach when it comes to marketing to children. I realize this may be a touchy subject because there are numerous parenting styles; however, the adult makes the purchasing decisions. Ads can appeal to children all they want but ultimately the parents have the purchasing power. Parents have the ability to say “no” to children, they also have the ability to say “go” to children to encourage activity (have I crossed the line yet with my opinion).
There are ethical concerns as with any advertising, namely touting superficial attributes and understating the lesser-quality characteristics. Advertisers should beware of not adequately portraying the product because consumers are not afraid to question the company’s motives. New media is available and free to be utilized whether advertising to adults or to children. Companies should employ ethical standards when marketing to children; however, it is the parent’s responsibility to oversee children’s eating habits to avoid any possible issues.