Friday, May 13, 2011

Parents Taking Responsibility for Children's Eating Habits

I listened to an interview today on KPBS with Mark Bittman, the author of How to Cook Everything. The discussion was about the government controlling junk food advertising to kids. Mr. Bittman's concern was that it was not mandatory and that the industry would have about five years to even begin to reign in their direct marketing to children.

As a parent who has very consciously directed my child's eating habits, I disagree with the supposed power marketers have over kids. As I have been thinking about it, I have even been trying to figure out where these ads are...I have forgotten! I guess the majority must still be during children's programing on television. If that is the case, parents still have greater power. We control our children's television viewing habits. Parents can record programs and fast-forward through commercials. They can discuss with their children what advertising is about. It's to sell products and make money for those companies. And how do these companies market to children? Does this mean that we buy these products? No. Does this mean these products are good for us or in our best interest? No. I did this and FYI, kids are pretty smart. They can avoid simple manipulation like this if their parents take the time to inform them. Parents can show DVD's instead if you want to avoid the ads altogether, or some people will say just get rid of the tv!

After raising a child, I see that so much of the problem of junk food eating comes from the parents...what they are eating, buying, serving...have you ever seen the snacks served to kids during and after youth sports, scouts, and other clubs for kids?!! Not to mention what is being served at kids' parties! Look at what parents are sending in the lunches-not what is being served in the cafeteria, but what comes from home! How about snacks and treats sent to school for various reasons? The parents are sending these, not the junk food companies. I have also noticed that Valentine's Day card exchanges have turned into candy giving parties over the past few years! These are all the choices of the parents!

This isn't to say that all parents are junk food dealers, but really when this is the message most parents are sending through what we provide for "our" kids, what else do we expect them to want or ask for?? And I am neither a corporate stooge nor a hippie mom, just someone who has noticed that the influence is really coming from home and the parents. The power over food choices and especially junk food eating habits starts at home, as so many other things in our children's life. Let's take a little responsibility here.