Sneaky Food Marketing Tactics to Kids

Trix are for kidsBy: Nikki Nies

In any activity, parents want their children to feel included.  Well, parents, you don’t have to worry about marketers excluding your children from their marketing campaigns.  Think about it, when’s the last time you saw Macintosh apples advertised on TV or those scrumptious blueberries announced on the radio?  Crazy thought, huh?

Still don’t believe me? I’ve got #’s to prove my point! The food industry spends an ANNUAL $1.6 billion on marketing foods to children.  And they say our country’s in a recession?  Well, now I know where the money is! Ok, all jokes aside.  To think the marketing campaign is within the billion’s is definitely hard to wrap my mind around. The major concern is what kinds of foods are being advertised.  If fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy products were mainstream in food advertisements, I wouldn’t be arguing with $1.6 billion being spent on food marketing.  Yet, the $1.6 billion is spent on high sugar, fat and/or sodium foods.  Specifically, energy dense foods such as salty snacks, carbonated soft drinks, baked goods, sugary breakfast cereals, etc. As you may know from first hand experience, children are a great market to target as they influence parent’s food purchases.  Who can say no to Johnny pleading for the new fruit snacks with Diego on the packaging? Daily, children between the age of 2-17 years old, see on average 12-21 TV commercials for food products.

Food marketers to do a swell job making children think it’s fun and cool to eat unhealthy. Unfortunately, a lot of industries have their hands tied.  They receive the largest profits from unhealthy snacks even if they want to promote the healthy ones.  Now you may be wondering what you can do.  Take your kids outside and enjoy what mother nature gives us on a daily basis! Also, limiting unhealthy snacks to once in a while will eventually increase likelihood of children to not desire sugary sweets and beverages in the long run!


The Weight of the Nation


By: Nikki Nies

The Weight of the Nation is a documentary created and produced by HBO.  This 4 part miniseries brings together health professionals, policy makers, researchers and partners that advocates of obesity strategies and solutions.
Although long, this documentary gives a good explanation of how we’ve gotten where we are now–with 2/3 of adults overweight.  The scary part, more and more children, America’s future, are overweight.


NJ School Nutrition and Wellness Policy



By: Nikki Nies

With the help of the Board of Education, New Jersey has implemented a nutrition and wellness program, with the hopes not to only curb the current obesity epidemic, but to do its part in healthy eating.

Our schools have come so far, I remember when I was in high school, the healthiest drink besides water was Vitamin Water.  However, four years later, and there are strict restrictions, which I’m proud to see schools are held accountable.

The list includes:

  • Food of minimal nutritional value—soda water, chewing gum, water ice, processed foods made predominantly of artificial sweeteners, hard candies, etc.
  • Any item with sugar—in any form—as first ingredient
  • Schools shall reduce the purchase of any products containing trans fat
  • In elementary schools—100% of beverages shall be milk, water, 100% fruit or vegetable juices
  • In middle and high schools—at least 60% of all beverages, besides water and milk shall be 100% fruit or vegetable juice
    • In regards to ice cream, no more than 40% of the item should exceed the standards for sugar and fat

I’m happy to see that not only the content of the food is improving, but portion control is becoming a major factor in nutrition education.  One can consume healthy foods, but to eat to one’s fullest potential, one needs to understand and utilize servings.

Guidelines for portions:

  • Limit nuts and seeds to no more than 8 g of total fat per serving
  • No more than 2 g of saturated fat per serving
  • Not including water or milk—beverages shouldn’t exceed 12 oz.
  • Whole milk shouldn’t exceed 8 oz.

This policy states the Board of Education is committed to the next generation’s health and will continue to expand awareness of this policy to the community.  I’m happy schools are finally seeing their role in nutrition education.  However, I can’t wait for the day when “health” class is about improving one’s longevity, including healthy eating, not just sex education