Cooperative Extension Fact Sheets
Home Day Care #1
Advertising, Nutrition and Kids
The greater exposure that the child of today has to television brings with it many complications and situations that were unknown years ago. One of the problems coming out of this age of the media is the targeting of food advertising to children. Supermarkets offer a seemingly endless variety of foods in bright colorful packaging. Often foods aimed at children are packaged with favorite cartoon characters adorning the covers. These same characters advertise the foods on television. In order to regulate the children's advertising industry, CARU (The Children's Advertising Review Unit) works with the industry to ensure that advertising directed to kids is truthful, and fair. CARU is industry supported. IFIC (The International Food Council)is an independent public foundation that develops educational and scientific programs in food safety and nutrition
How can we as caregivers help children understand how to select foods?
- It is important to teach children about basic nutrition and how to apply it to everyday eating habits.
- Children need to be taught how to manage all food types in their diets rather than having some foods forbidden or eliminated from their diets (except, of course, in cases of allergies). Balance, moderation and variety are principles that can apply to food choices as well as to other areas of life, and should be taught at an early age.
- Balance and moderation can be explained by comparing a healthy diet to a puzzle with several pieces. All pieces are necessary to complete the puzzle. None should be left out, but only the proper amounts (or sizes) can go together to make it a completed picture.
- Use of the Food Pyramid in a variety of ways will acquaint children with the basic language of nutrition.
How can we as caregivers help children to understand and evaluate food ads?
- Understanding the food product and how it is sold can help you and the children establish a sensible diet.
- Point out products advertised on television and magazines and ask the children to describe the similarities and differences. Ask…
- What methods (animation, color, celebrities, etc.) does the manufacturer use to sell the product?
- How do the methods affect you ? Do the props make them more interesting?
- What is the message? Are they saying you will be stronger, smarter, more popular, have more fun, etc. if you eat/drink the product. Do you believe that that will happen?
- While watching food advertising, have the children make pictures of foods they see and would like to try. After watching, have children cut out the pictures and place them in the proper space on the Food Pyramid. Do they fit in the categories? Are there too many choices in one group and not enough in another if you were to eat only what is advertised?
- On a field trip to the grocery store, have children select two different brands of a product they have seen advertised. Back at home talk about the differences and similarities of the products. Ask…
- How is the product depicted on the package? Is it shown with celebrities?
- How does it appear to look on the package? How does it really look inside?
- Is the inside what your children expected based on the outside?
- Is this a new product for the children? If so, did the packaging or the television presentation (celebrities, cartoons, kid's clubs, etc…)persuade them to investigate the inside?
How to complain about children's Ads
- If the ad is local in nature, contact your local Better Business Bureau.
- If the ad is national, you may either
(1) submit an online complaint to the Children's Advertising Review Unit .
(2) Put the complaint in writing.
- Be specific about where and when you saw or heard the ad. If it is printed, send the original ad or a copy with your complaint. Address your complaint to: Children's Advertising Review Unit, Council of Better Business Bureaus, 845 Third Ave, New York, NY 10022
Submitted by Patricia Cousineau
URI Cooperative Extension Research Associate
For more information please call 401.277.5255
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