Big Food Companies Are Making Our Children Fat

Are you aware of just how much hard-sell your children are exposed to with respect to junk foods and products that contribute to poor nutrition and obesity? Probably not, if you aren’t right up-to-date with the latest online marketing techniques that teenagers embrace.

The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) has just published a report that details how companies like McDonald’s, Kellogg, P&G, Cadbury and Pizza Hut are engaging in online viral marketing campaigns that aim to turn teenagers into unsuspecting shills for the health-destroying foods that have caused today’s astronomically high rates of teen obesity.

The report, Interactive Food and Beverage Marketing: Targeting Children and Youth in the Digital Age, calls upon the FTC and Congress in the U.S. to regulate the digital marketing of junk food to young people.  CDD is particularly critical of campaigns that involve social networking sites such as MySpace, mobile devices, and interactive games.

More Information:  CDD Takes Aim at Digital Food Marketing to Kids (ClickZ News)

Of course, you don’t have to wait for government regulation to kick in. Get to know how your overweight teenager uses mobile and interactive computer technology, and take steps to counter potentially harmful campaigning by the big food marketers.

Help Your Teenager with Managing Obesity

Most healthcare professionals agree that it is easier to prevent obesity rather than to treat it. It’s important for you to educate yourself about the weight control problem your teenager faces.

Obesity results from an imbalance between the amount of food we eat, and amount of energy we expend (exercise and physical activity).  It causes numerous other problems for youngsters. In fact, obesity is the leading cause of hypertension, Type II diabetes, heart disease, joint stress, and self-esteem issues amongst teens.

There are many factors that can cause teenage obesity;

1. Studies have shown clearly that obesity is more common in teens whose parents are over weight. Mind you, not all overweight infants become obese children, teenagers or adults. It appears that the cause of obesity passed from parents to children may be a combination of genetic factors, plus the poor eating and exercise habits kids learn from their parents.

2. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of today’s teenagers are spending too much time in front of computers, playing video games, and watching television. The average teen will spend several hours each day instead of playing outside or exercising. Alarmingly, only about one-third of elementary school children partake in a daily physical activity. And less than one-fifth play sports or other extracurricular activities.

3. Recently, heredity has been found to play a role in childhood obesity as well.

When we consider the ways that we as parents can help our teenage children manage obesity, the main focus is to put an end to further weight gain. In most cases, you will find that you are better off avoiding excessive emphasis on weight loss as the primary goal of a teen weight loss program. There have been too many cases where restricting food intake to an extreme degree, or labeling certain foods as bad, has caused eating disorders and low self-esteem.

Diet management needs to be a combination of behavior modification, physical activity, and nutrition education.

Behavior strategies that have been found to work well for teenagers include

  • keeping a food intake journal
  • taking more time to eat meals
  • offering rewards for tasks that have been accomplished

The best way to help your kids lose weight is to motivate them to start a regular exercise or physical activity program. When your teen becomes more physically active, they will burn more fat at a greater rate, and gradually lose excess weight without making unrealistic changes to eating patterns. Healthy physical activity will also help to suppress excessive appetite and over-eating.

From healthy eating, to knowing how to recognize problem signals, parental concern and awareness plays a major role in managing childhood and teen obesity.