21 Times a Day

That’s the number of food ads that elementary school age kids see every day. The vast majority of them are for junk foods. This is according to the largest study ever done looking at TV advertising to kids – by Kaiser Family Health and the University of Indiana.

The study evaluated advertising on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, Cartoon Network, Disney, MTV and Nickelodeon. Researchers found that 8 – 12 year olds viewed the most TV food ads at 21 per day. Teenagers see about 17 food ads per day and 2 – 7 year olds about 12 ads.

Can you compete?

How many times a day will you have to encourage your kids to eat healthy to overcome the number of ads they see promoting junk food? Is it reasonable to compete? Of course you can always cut back on the TV time but these days ads are everywhere – internet, cell phones, sporting events and even school hallways.

The Association of National Advertisers has vowed that over the next year, half of the ads will either promote healthier foods or encourage physical activity. Does that mean they’ll be suggesting that kids can eat their Twinkies as long as they do some jumping jacks first? That’s not good enough.

Too many kids today are too fat. There’s no way to candy coat that message. We can blame the advertisers, the junk food makers, the fast food restaurants, the school lunches or the snack-ridden soccer games. But the big bottom line is that we, as parents, need to step up and intervene.

Yes, we are busy. We can’t monitor everything our kids put in their mouths – but it is our job nonetheless. If we don’t take charge of our kids health, who will?

There’s more than meets the eye

It’s not just a weight problem. One out of three kids born today are expected to develop type II diabetes, and many of them before they reach the age of 18. Girls are especially at risk for some unknown reason. Overweight high school girls are much more likely to be obese adults and develop heart disease and diabetes.

The British Medical Journal predicts that diabetes will bankrupt their health care system in the coming decade. The U.S. has not run those numbers but we are not likely any better off. If you think that health care is expensive now, just wait until the aging baby boomer population and the current Generation XL take a toll on the system. Our behavior is unsustainable.

Not all overweight kids or adults have their own diet to blame, although most do. A few have a hard time losing the extra fat or keeping it off even with good diets. Some researchers believe that chemicals we have released into the environment are somewhat responsible.

In fact, we have released over 6,000,000 chemicals into the environment since the onset of the industrial revolution. It turns out that some of these that we get a lot of contact with mimic the female sex hormone, estrogen, and act in unpredictable ways – especially in the female body. Unfortunately, this means that some people have to work much harder than others.

We were built for lean times

When it comes down to it, our bodies are not designed for abundance. We store energy very efficiently to prepare for those lean times when we will need to tap into that fat. But those lean times never come anymore. We have become accustomed to our indulgent behaviors and feel entitled to our cakes, cookies and desserts. We are taking our lifestyles for granted and it is killing us.

Some folks are taking notice. More people are joining gyms, getting on regular exercise routines and watching what they eat. Society is becoming polarized – those improving their health and those neglecting their health.

We are winding the rubber band very tight and have only two choices. We can keep winding it until it breaks or we can begin to unwind it and relieve the tension. We can continue to take our families down the road of poor health or do something to reverse it. The longer we wait, the less of a choice we will have – have you made your decision yet?

Copyright (c) 2007 The Brain Code LLC