We do everything to stop children from smoking or drinking. We have set age limits on cigarette advertising and curbed alcohol advertising. Why? Because we cannot expect children to possess the mental capacity to make judgments that potentially destroy their health and shorten their lives.
Would you let your 8-year-old smoke or your 6-year-old drink hard liquor? So why do we let our children eat food that has equally detrimental effects? Junk food is potentially fatal, has addictive qualities and puts a huge excess burden on our health care system.
Kids don’t care. They are addicted and we are supplying their fix. They are caught up in peer pressure and fast food provides a convenient solution for the lazy teen. Most importantly though, the excessive sugar, fat and artificial flavourings of such foods are giving our kids a high. Almost as soon as the food is eaten a quick rise in blood sugar levels provides them with an instant energy boost. We all know what its like at a children’s party when the little dears have gorged on cakes, pies, fairy bread, red cordial or cola drinks. Then there’s the low, the slump that follows, similar to the day after hangover from a night of alcohol indulgence or a drug user’s crash after a big night of binging. Are we teaching our children to seek a high?
Parents don’t fully understand the true extent of the problem. Most don’t even know what constitutes a healthy diet. They haven’t been taught the connection between food and mood or attitude, and the, certainly don’t believe that the products are truly harmful. The prevailing attitude is that ‘if it is sold legally it must be safe’.
The problem is that too many mixed messages and advertising claims that are based loosely around fact. Remember when smoking was perceived as ‘cool’ in advertising. Now those images are replaced with diseased lungs and gangrenous feet.
What we need to stop children killing themselves with junk food is advertising similar to that found on cigarette packaging. The effects of junk food are equally disturbing and have been shown to lead to clogged arteries, heart disease, diabetes, gangrene, blindness, liver disease and organ failure. Images of these conditions on a chocolate bar, chip packet, or burger box might just change people’s view of what they are eating and bring to light the seriousness of the situation.
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