Junk Food Advertisements must Go

Pediatricians are calling for the removal of television advertisements for junk food during children's programs.

Pediatricians are calling for the removal of television advertisements for junk food during children’s programs, as the sugary, fat-filled foods play a large role in the rising rate of childhood obesity.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Council on Communications and Media released a policy statement saying that "the media" is responsible for contributing to child and adolescent obesity. In this statement, they cited the multiple examples of how television negatively affects a child’s weight, the main one being junk food advertisements during children’s programs, along with advertisements targeted at children via cellphone and other media.

Lead author Dr. Victor Strasburger, a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque, stated “We created a perfect storm between media use, junk and fast food advertising, and physical inactivity. We created a situation where we now have more overweight and obese adults in the U.S, than underweight and normal weight adults; it’s become an urgent public health problem.”

The AAP also mentioned the fact that over the past three decades, the percentage of America’s overweight or obese youth has doubled, as roughly 33% of children and teenagers nationwide are overweight. According to the APP, banning the junk food advertisements during children’s programming could reduce childhood obesity by as much as 15% to 20%.

The AAP did, however, approve of interactive video games such as ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ and ‘Wii Fit’, which have been shown to offer a moderate workout. They suggested in their statement that pediatricians ask parents how much time their child spends in front of the television, as well as whether there is a television or computer in the child’s bedroom.

“Given that we are smack in the midst of an epidemic of child and adolescent obesity, it doesn't seem like all that bad an idea,” concluded Strasburger.