A BAN on Fast Food TV Advertising Would Reverse Childhood Obesity Trends


In the past few years, childhood obesity has grown from being a personal health issue to a public health issue.

And today, it is fast becoming a political issue.

the-goonies-chunkWay back in the 1980s, this is what a fat kid looked like.

(Bonus points to anyone who recognizes Chunk from “The Goonies”)

Today, Chunk would almost be slim by comparison.

Not only are today’s fat kids fatter than ever, their numbers are swelling as well.

In 2006, the CDC said that “the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 more than doubled in the past 20 years, going from 6.5% in 1980 to 17.0% in 2006.

The rate among adolescents aged 12 to 19 more than tripled, increasing from 5% to 17.6%“.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, research also shows that there is an 80 percent chance an overweight adolescent will become an obese adult.

But maybe, you’re not a numbers person.

If that’s the case, and this data isn’t enough to grab your attention, take a look at this train-wreck:

Clearly, we have a problem.

What to do, what to do…

Well, according to researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research, a ban on fast food advertisements in the United States could reduce the number of overweight children by as much as 18%.

brain_socialistShould the U.S. pursue that path, they would follow Sweden, Norway and Finland as the only countries to have banned commercial sponsorship of children’s programs.

This new research builds onto the findings of the 2006 report issued by the Institute of Medicine.

That report:

  • Indicated that there is compelling evidence linking food advertising on television and increased childhood obesity
  • Recommended congressional regulation of television food advertisements aimed at children
  • But also said that the link that would definitively prove that children had become fatter by watching fast food commercials could not be made.”

Michael Grossman, co-author of the NBER study, say that “our study provides evidence of that link.”

The Link between Fast Food TV Advertising and Childhood Obesity

Alright, problem solved.

TV fast food advertising is the villain.

So, what now?

Now we just need a champion to step in and kick a little corporate butt.

Let’s see, who can we get….hmmmmm, who would be a good choice?

Wait, I know!!!

Tipper Gore

fat-kid-loves-cakeThat’s perfect!

Let’s unleash Tipper on those evil fast food and television executives and our childhood obesity problem will disappear faster than the cake at a fat kid’s birthday party.

Okay, I just happen to have her private number right here….dialing……it’s ringing…….someone’s answering…..and…but….but….I see….well..but….ok…thanks anyway…

Sorry people, Tipper’s too busy helping her husband eliminate global warming to help us eliminate childhood obesity.

We’re on our own.

So what do we want to do?

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  1. Oh GOSH that video is hard to watch. When it’s over, and they show a list of related videos, there is one of a 7 year old that weighs 400 pounds! It must be genetic.

    I think there should be a ban. At least a ban on the ads during childrens tv programs.

    I agree that there would have to be a reduction in obesity among kids if they aren’t bombarded with pictures of colorful, cartoon covered, sugary foods, so they won’t be kicking and screaming to their terrible parents that don’t know how to say “no” as much.

  2. Good post. A ban might help, a significant number of people still smoke despite all measures.
    In the end, parental involvement (restricting junk food, educating kids and being role model) is the key. Somehow we must get it across that it is not someone elses job to raise the kids.

  3. We in the U.S. are not in the mood for another restriction on our freedom of speech. Thank God for our Bill of Rights.

    Think of government power and freedom as one of those old-fashioned balance scales: The more power in government hands, the less freedom the people have.

    Dr. Hubbard has the solution.


  4. As much as I love Scandinavian politics on this point I disagree. TV advertising is a symptom of todays junk food society not the cause. Lets stop pushing subsidised, read cheap, carbs on people and that might solve the problem.

  5. My nephew came home with a Happy Meal coupon last year for reading 10 books during the school year. How is a ban on fast food advertising going to help with underfunded schools that will take revenue sources like this? I think a stop to subsidies to wheat, soy, and corn might really help cut down on obesity. Almost all processed and fast food have at least two of these three heavily subsidized ingredients.

  6. “Lets stop pushing subsidised, read cheap, carbs on people and that might solve the problem.”

    “I think a stop to subsidies to wheat, soy, and corn might really help cut down on obesity. Almost all processed and fast food have at least two of these three heavily subsidized ingredients.”

    – Just because advertisements aren’t the biggest cause of the problem doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be thought about, and perhaps considered a contributor to the problem. Of course looking at subsides at a big part of the problem is a good idea, but that doesn’t mean that ads don’t deserve to be looked at.

    “My nephew came home with a Happy Meal coupon last year for reading 10 books during the school year.”

    – Isn’t this a form of advertising?

  7. Well it was the Reagan administration that allowed that policy through. Before then they were never allowed to advertise to kids. I do agree that the way they go about it is quite sick. My main point is why worry about the smaller issues here when the big one is the subsidies on grains.

  8. obesity is really a big issue now among kids.kids are tempted towards fast food by the ads and refuse to take healthy meals.i do agree to the fact that these kinds of ads must be banned.

  9. I do understand blaming it on TV and fast food companies but the parents have so shoulder some blame. If you look at these obese kids they usually have parents that are obese. They just follow in parents footsteps and eat the unhealthy food that they do. I have 2 little ones and there is no way they are getting obese. By eating healthy and exercising youself your children will follow. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  10. Whilst the article has some merit, I think Banning (or more realistically) limiting kids “watching” TV will have more of an impact on tackling obesity and childhood malaise

    Junk food is bad, full stop and is a whole other issue to tackle


  11. I see you wrote this back in 2008, but just listened to an interview on NPR where they are discussing the Obama Administration’s proposed NTC regulations that would make advertising junk food to kids a no-no. Compliance would be voluntary but the consensus is that companies will feel a pressure to comply or look bad. Of course, there are those who proposed saying this is not the governments role. I say this is exactly what we need. You can read the NPR interview at http://www.npr.org/2011/04/28/135809039/obama-administration-sugary-foods-not-so-grrreat

    Also here is another study that looked at TV watching as opposed to TV watching with adds. In both cases, kids were involved in a sedentary activity. The difference is weight gain was a problem for the TV with commercials group. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20019313

    Also remember hearing about a study where they took a group of kids. At first the kids were presented with a pizza and told they could eat until satisfied. Then they were allowed to watch TV while eating. The kids in front of the TV ate significantly more. This is not the same study, but basically talks about the why kids may eat more in front of the TV. The advertisements may very well play into it. http://news.stanford.edu/news/2004/july7/med-tv-obesity-77.html

    Hope it is okay to include all these links.


  12. Oh, I meant to mention above, that in the last link, it wasn’t even so much that the kids watching TV were eating more junk, although, there are studies out there to suggest that we eat more junk when watching TV, but the kids watching TV ate more calories, period…again, just something to think about.

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