Any sound business model requires the cultivation of a new generation of consumers. Advertising to young children, who are too young to understand the subliminal and insidious nature of that advertising, is generally an accepted and effective tool. In the case of fast food, that child-centered marketing has a host of negative effects.
Fast Food = Happy
Fast food marketing to children relies very heavily on training children to believe that fast food leads to happiness, well-being, and satisfaction. The children shown in those advertisements are invariably fit, healthy and happy. They run around as rambunctious youngsters should, creating an (unconscious) connection between that and fast food in the minds of parents and kids who are watching. The lesson learned is that consumption of greasy, fatty foods is a necessary component of a good lifestyle.
Obesity is the condition most easily linked with child-centered marketing. 33% of Americans are obese, and 66% are overweight. As obesity is the direct result of consuming more calories than are burned, which basically means eating too much, any marketing that leads to more children consuming calorie-laden fast food will almost certainly lead to increased obesity rates, like those that we have seen in the past 30 years. The result of childhood obesity is generally adulthood obesity, arteriosclerosis, heart disease, and many other medical conditions. Not only do these ruin and end lives, they also cost the patients’ families or insurance companies hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Every item on the McDonald’s menu contains sugar. When consumed, the body is forced to produce insulin to allow it to absorb the sugar into the liver and cells. The more sugar is present, the more insulin is needed. A small organ called the pancreas produces insulin. The ever-rising sugar levels in the bodies of children who have been over-exposed to fast food marketing eventually causes the pancreas to give out. When the pancreas fails, diabetes ensues. Diabetes shortens dramatically the life-spans of its victims, be they adults or children.
Overall Bad Nutrition
Children need many different vitamins and minerals to develop into smart, healthy adults. Fast foods, which tend to consist of “empty (nutrition-free) calories”, do not provide this. Children raised on fast food are prone to various learning disorders, such as ADHD, and are often less able to function effectively in society. The bad nutrition also opens children up to conditions like asthma, which recent studies suggest is closely linked to fast food consumption. Brittle bones and poor eyesight can result, too, if youngsters do not get their healthy doses of milk and Vitamin C.
The five-year old that the fast food corporations market to is not able to buy their products on his own. Marketing to him is actually a means to achieve a different end: getting mom or dad (or both) to take him out for the meal, and buy food, too, while they are at it. Adults are fully developed, and not at risk of asthma or ADD the way children are, but they are at risk of a whole different set of diseases. In particular, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, and obesity are serious issues.
Child-centered marketing of fast food is ruining America’s waste-line, and in doing so is also poisoning the health and future of our nation’s children. It costs billions of dollars every year to cure the effects of child-centered marketing, and the situation deteriorates as time goes by.