June 24, 2010

"Creepy" and "Predatory" Marketing?

Parent readers of this blog,

Is it up to lawmakers to determine what foods are available to your children at privately-owned restaurants? In my opinion, the fact that these foods are available in the world is perfectly acceptable. Parents decide what their kids eat, and eating junky food some of the time is not a sin. It's the overindulgence to those kinds of foods, with a disregard to healthy eating practices, that concerns me. However, as maddening and saddening as it is to see fat seven-year-olds (and it is very, very sad for all the implications), it's none of my business to enforce healthy eating onto those kids and their parents.

You want to affect families' eating habits in a personal, highly-successful way? Employ yourself as a caregiver to kids and/or young adults. You are immediately given the duties of role modeling good eating behaviors and highlighting the importance of exercise. In fact, you're expected to encourage these things and are paid to do just that.

You'd be shocked at how incomplete peoples' information about how different foods get processed in our bodies, and what kind of results they bring when metabolized is. Many people simply do not even know what vitamins are, where to find them, why they're important, what too much fat, sugar and salt do to your body (including your brain, thus your behavior, mood and sensitivities) and why exercise and water are the greatest combatants.

Censoring what foods are simply available - fast food, vending machines, at ball games, etc. - is yet another misguided "solution" to the liberal notion of "caring for others." They don't care; caring takes time and involvement. They just want to control.

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Unhappy Meals: McDonald's to be sued for 'enticing children with toys'

By Sean Poulter, Consumer Affairs Editor
Last updated at 9:37 PM on 23rd June 2010

www.dailymail.co.uk


As far as many children are concerned, they are the most appealing things on the menu.

But not everyone is so keen on the merchandising toys used by McDonald's to entice youngsters to buy its Happy Meals.

A powerful American consumer group is threatening a lawsuit and has given the chain 30 days to drop the 'creepy and predatory' ploy it says undermines the efforts of parents to encourage a healthy diet.

The merchandise, which is also given to customers in Britain, includes toys related to the latest Shrek movie. Earlier this year it also had tie-ups with Alvin and the Chipmunks and Scooby Doo.

The Centre for Science in the Public Interest says using the items to promote its Happy Meals is 'unfair, deceptive and illegal' under American state laws.

McDonald's insists it uses toys and popular characters to promote healthy options such as fruit, carrot sticks and organic milk.

However, the CSPI says the reality is 93 per cent of children who have a Happy Meal walk out with a portion of fries alongside products such as burgers and chicken nuggets.

"McDonald's is the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children," said the CSPI litigation director Stephen Gardner.

"McDonald's use of toys undercuts parental authority and exploits young children's developmental immaturity - all this to induce children to prefer foods that may harm their health.

It's a creepy and predatory practice that warrants an injunction."

The CSPI said that of the 24 possible Happy Meal combinations that McDonald's describes on its U.S. website, all exceed 430 calories, which is one third of the 1,300 recommended daily intake for children aged four to eight*.

The figures will be similar in the UK.

A Happy Meal of a cheeseburger, French fries and Sprite has half a day's calories and saturated fat. It also has around two days of sugar at 35g.

McDonald's in the UK accused the CSPI of misrepresenting its food. A spokesman said: "McDonald's is committed to a responsible approach to our menu, and our Happy Meal offerings. We have added more choice and variety than ever before, a fact that has been widely reported and recognised. We couldn't disagree more with the misrepresentation of our food and marketing practices made by the CSPI."

Kathryn Montgomery, professor of communication at American University in Washington, said: "We know from scientific research that young children - and even older ones - do not have the ability to understand how marketing has been designed to influence them. In the era of digital marketing, these vulnerabilities are magnified even further. McDonald's use of these techniques raises troubling questions, for health professionals, parents, and policy makers."


*So what? A third of the day's calories is one meal's worth.

3 comments:

Molly @ Star Cottage said...

Haha No little plastic toy is going to undermine My efforts to feed My children healthy food. What happened to simply telling your kids NO. Or not going to Macdonalds in the first place. This is so lame. I am not a huge fan of Macdonalds but if we are on a long road trip and it's the only thing that's open and the kids are hungry we will grab something. It's not going to kill you, when you use it for what it's for. Fast food on the run. What ever happened to Common sense people.

Healthy Vending Foods said...

I agree with Molly above. Don't go to McDonald at firt place. And learn to say no.

Alway make ure kid eat healthy, even when they are getting their food from the vending machines.

Victoria said...

"It's not going to kill you, when you use it for what it's for. Fast food on the run."

Exactly! Not every day, not in place of real food. Just for those times when it's all you got.

It's kind of short-changing parents, huh? They ARE capable of putting their foot down. I guess the gov't thinks everybody needs a babysitter, even adults. =)

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