Food plays an essential role in people’s lives; everyone needs it for existence. It provides humans with energy, nourishes their bodies, and it is vital for mental wellbeing. However, excessive consumption of food can also have detrimental effects on our health. By going through my food journal, I realized some worrying facts about my eating habits that partly explain my weight gain in the last few months.
My breakfast usually comprises two cups of milk with oatmeal; this seems to be heavy compared to my weight. I also noticed that my junk food indulgence was not healthy; I need to reduce my weekly consumption of French fries to four times at most. My intake of sugar-free Coke has also risen, although I do not consider it worrying. The absence of fruits and vegetables in my diet worries me most. In the past two weeks, vegetables were featured only thrice in my meals.
Inadequate vegetable and fruit consumption coupled with late-night snacking and junk food addiction have brought me to the realization that I need to change my eating habits if I intend to stay healthy. My preference for junk food and increased frequency of eating may lead to health problems. My body mass index currently stands at 24.7; this is only three points away from being classified as overweight.
Factors Contributing to Increased Obesity Rates in Children
Overconsumption of high-calorie foods such as fast foods, candy, baked food, and sugary beverages promotes weight gain in children resulting in obesity. This condition has been fuelled by the food industry’s marketing of sugary food and drinks through advertisements on television (Vilaro et al., 2017). Children are often targeted by food and beverage advertising since they have “many years of consumer behavior ahead of them” (Harris et al., 2009, as cited in Ward et al., 2018). As a result, these aggressive campaigns have led to a decline in the consumption of healthy foods.
Lack of physical activities and exercise in children is also attributed to the increasing cases of obesity. Exercises are important in combating weight-related problems by burning calories, increasing the body metabolic rate, boosting blood circulation and heart function. Due to technological innovations, children have been offered alternatives sources of entertainment through video games. Unlike the traditional physically intensive outdoor games like soccer, video games are exercise-free; hence, depriving children of a means to shed off excess weight.
Parents and Schools Have a Role in Combating Food Industry Influence
Parents may have little control over the advertisements that run on television and billboards, courtesy of food industry campaigns promoting unhealthy food and beverages. However, parents have the power to monitor and control what their children consume. Parents can promote healthy lifestyles for their children by providing nutritious food and limiting the consumption of unhealthy foods. By promoting physical activities, parents ensure that children exercise and stay away from harmful advertisements funded by the food industry.
Schools also have a role to play in shielding children from the negative effects of food industry-led promotions. Their responsibility lies in educating children on the benefits of consuming healthy food and beverages and explaining the adverse effects of unhealthy foods. Schools also need to change the negative perceptions created in children’s minds by the food industry regarding the consumption of sugary food and drinks.
Food Industry Contribution to Overconsumption of Sugar
Through the funding of research programs globally, the food industry uses the services of scientists to manipulate facts and downplay the harmful effects of sugar on human health. According to O’Connor (2016), the food industry players blame the rising cases of obesity and heart conditions on saturated fats. In addition, food industry players corrupt researchers by offering them monetary rewards in exchange for distorted research findings in favor of sugar consumption.
Through strategic placement of influential people in top government departments and educational institutions worldwide, food industry players use these avenues to promote sugar consumption. They achieve their goals through influencing policy and publishing biased research that targets to promote sugar consumption. Additionally, food industry players promote the consumption of sugar through the use of television advertisements. A well-calculated marketing strategy is adopted through television commercials to push the general public into greater indulgence in sugar-based food and beverages.
Pepsi Max Advertisement Success
Soft drinks are one of the most frequently advertised products, whether on television, billboards, or social media platforms. From Pepsi to Coca-Cola, different soft drinks processing companies compete for market dominance. For decades, television advertisements have shaped this competition and immensely contributed to the overconsumption of these drinks. An example of such an advertisement is the “Pepsi Max, fizz for life” advertisement currently running on major television channels across Europe and the US. Through the ad, Pepsi Max is regarded as a cool product that seeks to give life the ‘fizz’ it lacks.
The advertisement promoted the consumption of Pepsi Max as a soft drink for all events. The advertising campaign targeted a young audience between the ages of 10 to 30 years. As a result, Pepsi outsold Coca-Cola by more than £8m in the UK grocery, with Pepsi Max growing its value sales by 18.8% Selwood (2020). Therefore, the advertisement has successfully pushed Pepsi records sales and created a lot of discussion on social media.
Obesity in children has reached worrying levels, governments and research institutions globally have the responsibility of coming up with relevant policies and legislation to combat and reverse this worrying trend. In pursuit of profits, the food industry has continually promoted unhealthy eating habits in society. Therefore, the conduct of the food industry should not only be monitored but also regulated in order to create a healthier society.
O’Connor, A. (2016). How the sugar industry shifted blame to fat. The New York Times. Web.
Selwood, D. (2020). Pepsi outpaces Coke by £8m in major victory over rival. The Grocer. Web.
Vilaro, M. J., Barnett, T. E., Watson, A. M., Merten, J. W., & Mathews, A. E. (2017). Weekday and weekend food advertising varies on children’s television in the USA but persuasive techniques and unhealthy items still dominate. Public Health, 142, 22–30. Web.
Ward, C., Edmondson, D. R., & Wheeley, A. (2018). Marketing unhealthy foods and beverages: Our children at risk. Atlantic Marketing Journal, 7(1), 25-32.