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Posts tagged ‘Junk Food’

Lunchroom Politics or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gushers

A variety of the General Mills' Fruit Gushers. You always pick out the red and green anyway.

During my childhood, namely throughout 90s and early 2000s, kids’ snacks were evolving. As always, cheap and pre-processed goodies were easily available in every grocery store, strategically placed on lower shelves and in bright, eye-catching packaging. However, it seems that a new trend took hold, whereby advertisers and the companies producing these packaged snacks began to re-brand their products to appear healthier and more nutritional while still maintaining the appeal of ‘kets‘.

Of course, it’s fair to say that notable examples like General Mills’ Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Rollups, Fruit Gushers, and many more were and still are convenient filler items for packing children’s lunches or as a midday snack requiring no more effort than a quick trip back into the house. Despite their names, they are little more (or no less) than glorified and gelled candies.
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Are “Snacker” and “Lead Bottom” the real villains in Disney’s “Habit Heroes” exhibit?

Snacker, Lead Bottom, and Glutton of Disney's recently closed "Habit Heroes" exhibit

Last week yahoo posted an article in its news section addressing the recent closing of Disney’s “controversial fat fighting exhibit” entitled “Habit Heroes.” The exhibit was originally produced to raise awareness and “fight” childhood obesity. The exhibit included cleverly named super heroes “Will Power” and “Callie Stenics” to fight the not-so-cleverly named evil villains “Snacker,” “Lead Bottom” and “Glutton.” The yahoo article says that the criticism for this exhibits roots from its “potential to shame overweight children and misrepresent the causes of the global obesity crisis.”  The story uses the words of respected bariatric surgeon, Yoni Freedhoff, to argue that there is indeed a problem within the health realm of children but offensive games that bluntly make fun of and stereotype the personalities of overweight children is not the way to handle it and unfortunately it makes Disney the “schoolyard bully.” The article closes with health statistics for U.S children and the main causes addressing the closing of the exhibit, including a petition that was signed by 300 protestors before it’s closing that argued “the attraction and game feature negative stereotypical characters, traditionally used to torment overweight kids, and will potentially reinforce and strengthen a cycle of bullying, depression, disease, eating disorders and even suicidal thoughts.”

The lecture from Wednesday’s class addressed candy and sweets and how they get into the hands of children.  Clearly, the problem of overindulgence in sweets and unhealthy food in the current generation of children is a problem considering the many statistics outlining the rise in childhood obesity. I agree with the above yahoo news article that the problem should be addressed but Disney failed to do it in a respectable and considerate way. All in all, I don’t believe the bad diet of many children is their own fault so why should Disney encourage others to see overweight children as ugly, disgusting and lazy, much like “Snacker” and “Lead Bottom”? As discussed in class, the chances of children these days to spend their money on candy is a lot less likely and ironically, it was mentioned that the institutions, such as schools, that stress most about concerns of childhood obesity are the places in which children are most likely to receive unhealthy food. If big companies, such as Disney and Blue Cross, are willing to spend millions of dollars on exhibits and programs that stress childhood obesity then maybe they should am their arguments at the adults that provide children with unhealthy and be both considerate and aware of the effects in will have on current children struggling with obesity. I believe it to be a hard situation to handle but hope that big companies will be more considerate of their affects next time they decide to open such a controversial exhibit.

They have recently canceled the site where you could see and read all the characters of Disney’s “Habit Heroes” exhibit but check out the bottom of this linked blog, The Weight Loss Rollercoaster, to check out a couple of the villain characteristics.


Sweetening Our Children’s Future

Junk food has become a hazard to the American diet. Many say that parents are setting their kids up for failure by allowing them to eat sugar packed processed foods. Poor diets and too much sugar have been known to cause a slue of problems to children’s health including obesity, diabetes, and, as some bloggers say, lowered IQ. With this becoming such a huge issue, much legislation is trying to be passed limiting food producers ability to advertise for junk food.

In Maren Stewart’s article “Sweetening Our Children’s Future: Addressing Junk Food Marketing,” she lays out how big of an issue this has become, the impact of marketing, and how American’s can help. She provides the statistics that one out of three American kids are overweight or obese. As far as junk food marketing goes, Maren states, that children who were exposed to junk food advertising consumed an average of 45% more than children who viewed other advertisements. She also gives suggestions like asking grocers for a candy-free check out line and talk with kids about food marketing and encourage them to make healthy choices instead of giving in to the cartoon or celebrity on the box.

Although we probably won’t see a change in junk food advertising anytime soon, these numbers put it into perspective just how huge of an issue this is on American children. Many people argue that it is not the government’s place to step in and tell Americans how to eat and what to eat or that there are more important issues for the government to address right now. Personally, I agree with Maren that this has become too large of a problem and intervention is needed. It is parents responsibility to make sure that their children live a healthy life and if they are not going to do that, there needs to be an outside force to step in. This issue has nothing to do with American freedoms, but rather saving our children from life threatening illnesses.