Saturday, April 18, 2009

Effects of food marketing on children

Effects of food marketing on children

The power of media is increasing day by day. It is not only changing our lives but influencing it rapidly. No body has imagined this some decades back. Media has become an inevitable part of human life .Marketing is one of its aspects. It is now in its peak period. It has occupied an important place in media. It has penetrated the human life to affect it for the benefit of somebody. The four important elements of marketing are product, price, place and promotion. Advertising is the eminent tool in any marketing process. It plays an important role to attract children towards food products. Children are the most important part of society and target audience for the food products. A lot of competition has aroused in the market is leading to unethical food marketing to children.
The following points should be considered while dealing with this subject.

  • What is unethical food marketing?
  • How does it affect the children?
  • How to prevent chidren from the influence of it?
  • What parents can do?
  • How do we help children to eat healthy?

Marketing ethics is the area of applied ethics which deals with the moral principles behind the operation and regulation of marketing. Some areas of marketing ethics which includes ethics of advertising and promotion overlap with media ethics .Applied ethics is, , "the philosophical examination, from a moral standpoint, of particular issues in private and public life that are matters of moral judgment"( in the words of Brenda Almond, co- founder of the Society for Applied Philosophy)
In short, Unethical food marketing is the marketing which do not follow ethics. It is not concerned with the consumer’s health. It only thinks of industrial benefits.
Advertising affects children through various appeals like, emotional, rational and moral Due to their favorite celebrity icons children tend to follow them as depicted in the advertisements. Children are forced to desire the food products that are not nutritious. They end up consuming food that affects their health causing diseases and problems like obesity and malnutrition. They compromise with their health while following their so call idols or heroes. Now lots of television shows are also marketing food products. Lots of children’s programs are also now doing marketing of food products like, soft drinks, other beverages and fast food items.
We can prevent this penetration of food marketing by educating children. Government can also help parents by making strict laws and reinforcing them.
Lots of NGOs and organizations working for the welfare of the children have done research and shown results that give the overview of children’s health problems caused by unhealthy food. World health Organization is also actively working for this matter to save children.
Children are future pillars of the nation .Their health matters a lot. Parents should spend their own time for them and communicate the importance of healthy and home cooked food.
Government can take the help of celebrities and use them in advertising aiming at convincing the importance of healthy and home cooked food to children. All state Governments can contribute this promotion of healthy food under the campaign ‘Eat Healthy’. Many creative thoughts can be applied to make this advertising campaign a success. Media can be used as a prominent tool to convince children the importance of healthy food. Parents should take initiative and complaint against the unethical food marketing. Mothers can be taught to make healthy and delicious food, through various government and private institutes. It is very important to; create an awareness regarding this subject like “Pulse Polio Abhiyan” It can work very well to make parents and children aware. Children’s shows like cartoon films also can be used as a tool to spread the idea of eating healthy food. An imaginary character of Superhero can be created to influence children and convince them to eat healthy.
There many research projects, seminars, talk shows, other programs has been organized at different places, countries, television channels, etc to state and discuss the effects of Unethical food marketing to children. They have given an overview considering the short term and long term effects.
According to me, its time to think solution oriented. I have suggested some solutions. They can be summarized as:

  • Teaching Health science as a subject at school level
  • Teaching housewives healthy and delicious food, through various government and private institutes
  • Using media as a tool to create awareness
  • Taking help of celebrities to convince children to eat healthy
  • Convincing the bad effects of food products in market which cause health problems trough an advertising campaign with the help of government.
  • Presenting children healthy food products by government and private companies

Decreasing the influence of unethical advertisements by the above solutions can be made possible by active support and participation of parents and schools. The implementation of solutions suggested by parents and various organizations is important regarding this subject.

Anuja Khaire