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In a year, the average child will have watched 20,000-40,000 different TV ads, with a majority of them being about food. These ads aren’t just plainly telling you that you should buy their product. These companies need to seduce their audience into buying their product. So, they are implementing feelings of love, friendship, empathy, and memories into there ads. Once these kids watch the ad/s and head to the supermarket with their mom or dad, a trigger in their brain will go off and they will remember that “wonderful” ad that showed other people having a good time with that particular food. The problem here, though, is that these TV food ads show foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and sodium, which have been labeled the causes of child obesity. If kids watch these ads, they are more likely to eat food that is fairly unhealthy for them.
As a child, I always saw these ads when I was watching a tv show or movie. So how did I fare out with the whole ad thing? Did they “get” to me? I remember as a kid watching Reese’s Puffs commercials (I remember the words of the song to this day), and thinking that I wanted to try this cereal. I was a calm boy and I wasn’t one of those kids who would scream or cry to get what he wanted. If I didn’t get something I wanted, whether it be a food or a toy, my mom or dad would tell me why, instead of just saying no. That crossed into ads too, where I knew better to fall for whatever they were showing. My mom and dad just told me that this cereal had a lot of sugar and too much sugar was bad for you. Of course, there were times when my parents let me have a cereal or snack that wasn’t good for me (once or twice a month) and that was cool. It never became a habit to eat foods with high levels of fat or sugar. As I grew up, I started to realize just how many ads there were for “bad” foods. If I watched a 30-minute TV show, I’d probably see at least ten ads for Mcdonald’s or Burger King. Once I got into film at around ten years old, I started to analyze and observe TV ads and over the years, there were more and more ads for food that society deemed to be “fast food”.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology, “Among children 2–5 and 6–11 years, respectively, 84.1 and 84.4% of ads seen on all programming and 95.8 and 97.3% seen on children’s programming were for products high in NTL ( nutrients to limit).” This just proves what I was observing back when I was ten was correct. When was the last time you saw an ad on TV about lettuce or broccoli? Yeah, you may see a slice of tomato or lettuce in a burger from Burger King but, you never see any vegetables being shown in a good light unless it is in a can. There shouldn’t have to be ads about vegetables. They should be apart of our everyday lives. No vegetable has a lot of trans fat, sugar, and sodium, which are the three ingredients that nowadays spikes dopamine and serotonin in a person.
I am thankful that I grew up knowing what good food was and having vegetables in my everyday life. I have had a salad almost every single night, with the occasional organic tomato or spinach from my home garden. Even when I go out to eat at a restaurant or even a buffet, the first thing I look for is a salad. I love salad so much and I don’t know how other people don’t like it. I had a complicated life in my early years but, long story short, my mom and I were living by ourselves and we lived in an apartment meant for people that were almost in poverty. Even then, my mom still tried as hard as she could to buy food that was healthy. During my Sophomore year of high school, my dad died from Dementia. My dad had just retired and moved up from Eastchester, New York to Vermont, where my mom and I lived. My mom and dad were happily married, even though they lived in different states. I would go down to visit him every weekend or every other weekend. When he finally retired and moved up to be with us, I was ecstatic. Then we realized what disease he had and all of that happiness went away. I kind of started to go downhill and comfort foods were the norm. I was only a three-sport athlete until my junior year because I quit those sports.
My depression was taking up most of my time. I started gaining weight fast because I was eating the same way (both healthy and unhealthy) that I had been for many years, plus the even more unhealthy food I was consuming. Those TV ads that I thought could never influence me, actually started to work, even if it was a subconscious thing. Those comfort foods spiked my dopamine levels, which made me a happier person. Why would I want to stop if it was making me happy? I even knew that those foods were bad, yet I still ate them; it was amazingly stupid of me.
While advertising still remains to be a part of modern life, it is my belief that not only parents, but advertisers should take on the responsibility of guarding their sensibilities to avoid the negative impacts of advertising on their physical, mental and emotional well-being.
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