Thousands of years ago, food simply served the purpose of sustenance. Early civilizations consumed any available source of energy with the goal of survival. Now, modern society considers food to be an accessory, simply an option that the consumers can design for their own convenience. Food corporations only encourage this mentality by mass-producing synthesized foods. Companies do not intend to distribute unhealthy foods, but rather follow the new wave of thinking in food science, nutritionism: the practice of engineering foods to boost their nutrient content. The main drawback of this idea is that the engineered food lacks many of the qualities that initially made it healthy; whereas, natural food effectively nourishes the consumer. Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food, uses this characteristic of natural food to argue that society should revert to previous ways of eating, where only natural substances are available. While his main point carries weight, he does not address the additional, non-health related impact of eating processed foods, specifically the financial benefits. Food corporations’ structure currently relies on unnatural foods, which eliminates any incentive for them to sell natural foods. Theis reason can be eliminated through the re-organization of the budget at the early stages.
Archive for the '04-19-1500' Category
Americans are widely regarded as one of the unhealthiest societies in the world. We have very high instances of chronic and degenerative diseases such as cancer and heart disease, we have high rates of obesity and diabetes (especially in children), and we have numerous other health problems that you don’t see in other cultures. The causes behind this are widely varied, but there are a couple of problems that are at the heart of the issue. The first is the fact that food science creates the illusion of healthy foods through processing, when in fact a lot of evidence suggests just the opposite. People think they are getting healthy foods, when in fact they are eating more unhealthily than ever. The second major cause of the nutrition crisis is targeted advertising. Snack food giants (and other processed foods companies) put out highly targeted adds that entice people into consuming more and more unhealthy foods. This is especially harmful to children, as it instills bad eating habits in them at an early age. In my paper, I aimed to find out more about the harmful effects of these 2 issues, and to explore several ways to help fix them.
Processed foods saturate our daily lives – the media, the supermarkets, the cereal in our kitchen cabinets. Processed foods are inherently less healthy than whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Advertisements heavily promote processed foods. Young children, ages 5-10, are targeted as a group by advertisers and are particularly susceptible to food advertisements. The processed food culture has created a health epidemic in America: approximately nine million children over 6 years of age are obese and carry an estimated 30-40% lifetime risk of diabetes. Research confirms media’s influence on children’s food choices; advertising prompts young children to request junk food and influences parents’ purchases.
Advertisement of highly sweetened, processed food to children has a far-reaching, negative impact on health; the same advertising methods that sell Cap’n Crunch, however, could be used to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables by children. Health advocates need to take a page from advertisers’ playbooks and promote non-processed foods to children. Media campaigns such as “Got Milk?,” “1% or less,” and “Healthy Habits for Life” strongly suggest that advertising can increase consumption of non-processed, generic foods. Successful campaigns employ celebrity endorsements, partner with multiple organizations, and saturate the market with the message that the product is desirable. Campaigns promoting fruits and vegetables must employ tried and true child-enticing approaches: memorable icons, child-pop stars, jingles, and action filled, colorful, playful age-appropriate messages. If advertisements can make breakfast cereal appealing; advertisements, they can be used to increase the “cool factor” and consumption of fruits and vegetables among children.