Many studies demonstrate that television viewing affects children’s physical and mental health. Unlimited television time detracts from active play and induces passivity. Furthermore, commercialism is rampant on network and cable television. Children have no defenses against the advertising industry, so they fall prey to every fad. A recent report indicated the possible devastating effects of television advertising on preschoolers.
Consumer Reports provides the following disturbing statistic. The average preschooler sees 642 cereal ads per year on television alone, almost all for unhealthy cereals.” The study, conducted at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity points to both short and long term effects of poor nutrition. For example:
Cereals marketed directly to children have 85 percent more sugar, 65 percent less fiber, and 60 percent more sodium than cereals marketed to
Forty-two percent of child-targeted cereals contain artificial food dyes,compared with 26 percent of adult cereals.
Of the children’s cereals, only 8 percent meet the nutrition standards
needed to be included in the USDA’s food stamp program
Starting the day with a good breakfast is vital for successful learning. However, starting the day with a high-sugar cereal is a bad decision. And children watching television before they go to school are assaulted with commercials for these sugary snacks.
In fact, the cereal companies have been aggressively marketing the least nutritious cereals to children. Furthermore, the medical editor of CB.com indicates, “The current generation of children will be the first in the history of America to die earlier than their parents did – and a recent study reveals cereal ads may be partly to blame. Poor food choices haunt individuals throughout their lives. Obese children have fewer friends and lower self esteem. They also have a greater likelihood of suffering from depression than their thinner counterparts.
So parents should shut the television, discard the sugary cereals, and provide more healthful choices for their children.