Subvert junk food marketing

Eat real food

by Dr. Mercola

photo © Shelagh Duffett
photo © Shelagh Duffett

• Food marketing expenditures are quite telling. In 2009, a whopping $1.7 billion was spent on unhealthy food marketing to kids, compared to a mere $280 million spent on healthy food ads.

Kids aren’t even safe from predatory marketing at school.

In 2009, companies spent $149 million marketing soda and other sugary drinks in schools and, on average, these drinks contained 16 or more grams of sugar per serving – an amount that meets or exceeds the maximum daily recommended sugar intake for most kids.

A large number of studies have also confirmed that sugary beverages in particular are strongly associated with obesity and this is not limited to soda.

Fruit juices will, in many instances, contain nearly identical amounts of sugar as soda, yet many parents are still under the illusion that fruit juice is “healthy,” and fail to consider these beverages when looking for dietary culprits for their child’s weight gain.

To prevent obesity and chronic disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests limiting your sugar consumption to a maximum of 5 percent of your daily calories, which equates to about 25 grams/6 teaspoons of sugar per day for most adults.

The limit for children is around 3 to 4 teaspoons a day or 12 to 16 grams. So just one sugary beverage can easily put a child over the limit of what their body can safely handle without adverse health effects.

Other junk foods also feature heavily in schools. According to the video, The Weight of the Nation: Children in Crisis, “20 percent of the rise in the BMI of teens is associated with the increased availability of junk food in schools.” The film also addresses the issue of school lunches, discussing the impact inferior school nutrition has on the childhood obesity epidemic.

Parents are fooled by food advertisements too

Parents are also deceived by the food industry’s PR machine. Junk food ads cleverly manipulate parents into making unhealthy choices for their kids while believing they’re doing the right thing. As noted by CNN:

“It is a dual-pronged approach where food manufacturers are targeting kids to pester (their parents) for these products and then manufacturers are marketing to parents to get them to think these products are healthy and not to feel guilty about buying them …”

[P]arent-directed ads emphasized health benefits and nutritional information for the products… However, a recent report… found that many of the products that are advertised to children, such as sugar-sweetened juice beverages and cereals, do not meet federal standards for healthy snacks. And… the ads that parents are seeing are for these same products.”

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to avoid falling into this trap is to realize that if there’s a commercial for it, you and your kids probably shouldn’t be eating it!

Why? Because only processed foods are heavily marketed and if you’re concerned about your child’s health and weight, then processed foods of all kinds, no matter what the ads promise, are the enemy. Your fridge and pantry needs to be stocked with REAL food, meaning foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.

We must return to a diet of real food

Researchers have firmly debunked the myth that all calories are identical, and that to lose weight all you need to do is expend more calories than you consume.

Research shows that what you eat can actually make a big difference in how much you eat. In a nutshell, research shows that calories gleaned from bread, refined sugars and processed foods promote overeating, whereas calories from whole vegetables, protein and fibre decrease hunger.

While it’s true that most kids exercise too little, it’s important to realize your child cannot exercise his or her way out of a poor and metabolically “toxic” diet. Over the past 60 years or so, a confluence of dramatically altered foods combined with reduced physical exertion and increased exposure to toxic chemicals have created what amounts to a perfect storm.

The extensive use of refined sugar – primarily in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, which is added to virtually all processed foods – is at the heart of it all.

The recommended goal is to limit added sugar to a maximum of 10 percent of daily calories. While reading labels can help, the easiest way to do this is to eat REAL food. Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and heart attacks are all diseases associated with a processed food diet.

The following short list of just three super-simple, easy-to-remember guidelines will not only improve your family’s nutrition, it will also help you avoid chemical exposures that can affect weight:

Eat real food: Buy whole, ideally organic, foods and cook from scratch. First of all, this will automatically reduce your added sugar consumption, which is the root cause of insulin resistance and weight gain. If you buy organic produce, you’ll also cut your exposure to pesticides and genetically engineered ingredients, and in ditching processed foods, you’ll automatically avoid artificial sweeteners and harmful processed fats.

Opt for organic grass-finished meats to avoid genetically engineered ingredients, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other growth promoting drugs.
Opt for glass packaging and storage containers to avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals.

© Dr. Mercola

Obesity a marker for many life-shortening diseases

Obesity is closely tied to a number of chronic diseases. In the US, eight obesity-related diseases account for 75 percent of all healthcare costs. This includes type-2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and dementia. About one-third of all cancers are also directly related to obesity. When you consider that two hallmarks of obesity are insulin/leptin resistance and chronic inflammation, you can begin to recognize that excess weight is fertile ground for a wide array of other ailments – many of which can cut your life significantly short. Obese children significantly increase their risk of suffering obesity-related illnesses and complications far earlier in life than others. Case in point: research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015 revealed obese children as young as eight now display signs of heart disease.

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