Why Banning Junk Food Advertisements is Impractical?
“”Today, about half of the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants – mainly at fast food restaurants”” (Schlosser 4). Eric Schlosser’s book “”Fast Food Nation,”” not only focuses on the changing ways the world eats and the epidemics of obesity in America but also the “”Mcdonalization”” of society. In 1940, the first Mcdonalds opened in San Bernardino, it was a fast- food drive-in restaurant that sold tasty hamburgers, french fries, and drinks; carhops took the orders of hungry customers from their cars and brought them back their food; short-order cooks prepared their orders.
Mcdonald’s delicious hamburgers have captured the taste buds of many and earned visits from people who lived far from the restaurant. Soon after, the business started to grow rapidly, workers had to adapt and keep up with the ever-changing fast-paced work environment which challenged their work method. The preparation and service methods became ineffective, there were far too many customers.
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Mcdonalds closed in 1948 and reopened in a short span of three months; it had transformed into an efficient business with better methodical practices that introduced the concept of factory assembly lines into their new and improved kitchen. Entrepreneur Brothers, Richard and Maurice Mcdonald’s clever “”Speedee service system”” had set the standards in the fast food business and industry.
Hence, the concept of the assembly line preparation had begun infiltrating many businesses alike, only proving the method to be successful. In addition to the success of these fast food chains, was their triumph in targeting children with their advertisements and drawing them into their restaurants to buy their fast-food junk. With a large number of franchises launching nationwide and clever marketing tactics, the fast-food industry had gained its momentum.
Not only were these nationwide franchises producing the same burgers and fries but they were also responsible for the homogeneous health problems it was creating for their consumers, especially in young children. While Schlosser makes many valid points in his suggested congressional solution to ban all advertising towards children, his reasonings prove to be impractical and weak because he doesn’t demonstrate any critical thinking nor does he provide evidence to support his statement.
Banning junk food advertisements does not stop kids from consuming fatty and sugary foods. Schlosser argues that banning such advertisements to children would “”discourage eating habits that are not only hard to break, but potentially life-threatening”” (262). He failed to communicate the fact that if Congress were to ban advertising junk food towards children, it is unlikely children will make healthier choices to break these unhealthy eating habits that Schlosser says is “”hard to break”” and that is “”potentially life-threatening””. Many kids prefer eating junk food over healthy foods such as leafy greens and fruits.
According to Priya Fielding-Singh’s Los Angeles Times article “”Why do poor Americans eat so unhealthfully? Because junk food is the only indulgence they can afford,”” she affirms that “”96% of high-income families”” were more likely to say “”no”” to the junk food requests of their kids, and that “”only 13% of low-income families had a parent that reported regularly declining their kids’ requests.”” (Fielding-Singh). In other words, whether a child was from an affluent background or from the low-income distribution, they requested junk food. Not to mention, junk food is affordable and is at times the only food low-income parents can afford to feed their children.
Furthermore, Schlosser does not follow through with his arguments and does not consider the other side of the equation. When Schlosser said that “”a ban on advertising unhealthy foods to children would discourage eating habits that are not only hard to break, but potentially life-threatening,”” (262) He did not elaborate, and failed to answer possible questions that his audience may have such as “”why does Schlosser think that banning advertisements that promote junk food will stop children from consuming it?”” He is simply just making a number of statements without letting the audience know why he thinks this way. Banning advertisements of junk food toward children is also impractical and may raise many problems that Schlosser does not seem to think about.
According to Liz Leslie’s Indiana Public Media article “”Food Marketing To Kids: Free Speech or Fair Suggestions?,”” she says that food companies had formed “”the lobbying group, “”Sensible Food Policy Coalition””, in response, and with the help of lawyers, drew up white papers stating the suggestions were a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech”” (Leslie). Banning such advertisements would contradict people’s right to exercise their freedom of speech rights; this could lead to a chaotic scene of angry protesters (people of the fast-food industry, owners of small junk food businesses, supporters, etc.) protesting their rights.
Schlosser continues to argue his point without providing any evidence to support his argument. He states that banning junk food advertisements would “”encourage the fast-food chains to alter their recipes for their children’s meals”” and “”Greatly reducing the fat content of Happy Meals, for example, could have an immediate effect on the diet of the nation’s kids.”” (262). Here, Schlosser fails to mention what is in those Happy Meals that are contributing to the health problems of children. Plus, the happy meals contain apple slices, protein (chicken nuggets or hamburger), and a drink of their choice (low-fat milk, chocolate milk, or apple juice) which is healthier than a majority of the foods in the Mcdonalds menu.
In Brooke Nelson’s Business Insider article “”The 5 healthiest things to order at McDonald’s, according to a nutritionist,”” she says that “”Sarah Koszyk, R.D.N., a sports dietitian and weight management specialist, recommends ordering a cheeseburger, kids fries, and apple slices for a relatively well-balanced meal.”” (Nelson). To put it another way, the Mcdonald’s happy meal that Schlosser implies that is contributing to the health risks of kids is not even at all that bad as he makes it out to be. Moreover, Schlosser goes on to say that “”every month more than 90 percent of the children in the United States eat at Mcdonald’s”” (262).
He does not state where he got the “”90 percent”” information from, it sounds like his own estimate. In the Los Angeles Times article “”CDC reveals just how much fast food American kids eat each day,”” by Karen Kaplan, she states that the data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that “”on any given day, 34.3% of U.S. children and teens between the ages of 2 and 19 eats pizza, fried chicken, tacos or some other dish prepared in a fast-food restaurant”” (Kaplan). Schlosser fails to let his readers know where he gets his information from.
I understand the other side of the equation and I can totally see why Schlosser would propose (although impractical) the banning of advertisements toward children. In the Scientific Daily article “”Kids hit hard by junk food advertising “” by the University of Adelaide, Professor Lisa Smithers says that “”the World Health Organization has concluded that food marketing influences the types of foods that children prefer to eat, ask their parents for, and ultimately consume”” (University of Adelaide). To put it another way, advertisements of food to children influences their behavior. Schlosser’s concern for the growing obesity rate and other health risks that are affecting children is understandable.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), “”The obesity rate for children ages 6 to 11 has also more than quadrupled during the past 40 years – from 4.2 to 17.4 percent – as well as tripled for adolescents ages 12 to 19, climbing from 4.6 to 20.6 percent.”” Additionally, In the Alternet article “”8 Countries Taking Action Against Junk Food Marketing”” by Marisa Tsai, she states that “”Quebec’s law passed in 1980 restricting junk-food marketing to kids”” it banned fast- food companies from marketing to children under 13 “”in print and electronic media”” and as a result “”Fast-food expenditures subsequently decreased 13 percent”” (Tsai). I can see why Schlosser is all for banning marketing junk food towards kids. In places like Quebec that had restricted food companies from marketing junk food to children, though that “”13%”” decrease may sound like a small percentage, it proved that restricting junk food advertisements worked.
Eric Schlosser offered some good points in his argument but did not demonstrate any critical thinking when it came to defending his position. When he said that banning advertisements of junk food to children would prevent or stop their unhealthy eating habits, he failed to consider the fact that banning such advertisements won’t suddenly make kids eat healthier. He did not follow through and elaborate further in his argument; he is essentially leaving many potential questions that his audience may have go unanswered.
Schlosser took ,for example, Mcdonalds Happy Meal that he implied contributed to the health problems of children without even letting the audience know what was in those happy meals that he claimed were so full of fat and sugar. Even if advertisers were prohibited to promote junk food, the huge golden arches of Mcdonalds or the smiling star of Carls Jr or the colorful kid-friendly packaged junk snacks at grocery stores is enough to encourage children to eat unhealthy foods.
- Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side Of The All-American Meal. Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2001. Print.
- “”Facts About Childhood Obesity.”” Partnership for a healthier America, 2017, https://www.ahealthieramerica.org/articles/facts-about-childhood-obesity-102. Accessed 11 May 2018.
- Fielding-Singh, Priya. “”Why do poor Americans eat so unhealthfully? Because junk food is the only indulgence they can afford.””
- The Los Angeles Times, 7 February, 2018. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-singh-food-deserts-nutritional-disparities-20180207-story.html. Accessed 11 May 2018.
- Kaplan, Karen. “”CDC reveals just how much fast food American kids eat each day.”” Los Angeles Times, 18 September, 2015. http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-sn-fast-food-calories-kids-20150915-story.html. Accessed 11 May 2018.
- Leslie, Liz. “”Food Marketing To Kids: Free Speech or Fair Suggestions?.”” Indiana Public Media, 7 September, 2011. https://indianapublicmedia.org/eartheats/free-speech-fair-suggestions/. Accessed 11 May 2018.
- Nelson, Brooke. “”The 5 healthiest things to order at McDonald’s, according to a nutritionist.””
- Business Insider, 11 January, 2018. http://www.businessinsider.com/healthiest-things-to-order-at-mcdonalds-2018-1. Accessed 11 May 2018.
- Tsai, Marisa. “”8 Countries Taking Action Against Junk Food Marketing.”” Alternet, 27 June, 2016. https://www.alternet.org/food/8-countries-taking-action-against-junk-food-marketing. Accessed 11 May 2018.
- University of Adelaide. “”Kids hit hard by junk food advertising.”” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2018. . Accessed 11 May 2018.