Whilst many of us may use ad breaks in the middle of our favourite TV programme to boil the kettle or go for a comfort break, as those thought processes don’t occur in the child mind, they are the ideal engaged audience for the business who needs to make money to exist. From toys and games to technology and days out, which parent hasn’t had their child come up to them and ask for something they have seen an advert for? However, with the seemingly unstoppable rise in childhood obesity, it is when our children connect fun and colourful adverts combined with an unforgettable jingle, with food that can be seen as an unhealthy choice, that we need to start digging deeper into the consequences of what they see both on TV and online.
In the UK, the Advertising Standards Agency oversee the advertising that comes into our homes and lives, and in recent years has worked hard to reduce adverts relating to fast-food, snacks and soft drinks. But with the vast majority of children now spending more time online than ever before, there is now more than one method for businesses to get their message across.
Whilst restrictions are in place as to what can be advertised and when when it comes to the child market, in order to curb the growing epidemic of obesity, a blanket ban on the unhealthier choices that are aimed at children is something that should be considered yet is not even close to being a reality. Clever wordsmiths can make even the sugariest of drinks sound like a highly considered and reasonable choice with phrases such as “sugar-free” and “full of fruit” giving an impression of a drink that is a healthy choice yet the reality is far from it.
So, with a change in any advertising that is likely to appeal to children far from being on the horizon, what parents can do to keep their child healthy is to ensure they get plenty of exercise and balance this with a diet full of the right nutrients. Fruit, vegetables, nuts, pulses and grains can become as appealing as the latest fast-food concoction if advertised by the parent in a similarly colourful and jovial way. And with vitamins helping to fill any nutritional gaps, as well as being beneficial in many other ways that contribute to all over good health, it is not only the advertising agencies that know how to sell the right choices to children.