Junk Food Crisis

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An article in Scientific American, on the growing epidemic of childhood obesity and the overall effect on human health, points out several additional things.

First, it’s not merely due to the sedentary effects of being a couch potato. It’s the advertisements themselves: “You might expect that watching TV, being a sedentary activity, is responsible for obesity, but the study found that obesity is correlated not with television per se but with advertising. The more commercial programming children watched, the fatter they got compared with those who watched a comparable amount of public television or DVDs. The majority of products marketed during children’s programming are foods.”

Second, in this era of much screaming about getting government out of our lives, it points out that government does have obligations, and some regulatory actions are necessary since the marketplace cannot be trusted to regulate itself: “In a study published in the March Pediatrics, investigators looked at the prevalence of food and beverage brands in movies released between 1996 and 2005. They noted, for instance, that although Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have pledged to not advertise during children’s television programming, their products routinely appear in movies aimed at kids.” Regulations must be clear, mandatory not optional, and they must be enforced.

Third, the article recognizes that the best ‘Health Reform’ measure we could take would be to find ways to prevent all the excessive expenses of medical care: “The estimated cost of treating obesity-related ailments in adults was $147 billion for 2009. With the health care system already faltering, allowing companies to decide for themselves whether to peddle junk food to kids is a fox-and-henhouse policy this country simply cannot afford any longer.”

Thanks to my Facebook Friend RSV for sharing the article there. You can read it in full at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=underage-overweight