By Andrea, Contributing Writer
When we were given the task of tackling tough topics, I immediately thought of childhood obesity.
The facts on childhood obesity cannot be disputed. One third of American children are currently obese according to the CDC.
This is a monumental crisis when you consider that obesity leads to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, joint problems and fatty liver disease. (source)
Have you ever tried to lose weight? You know it is hard. It breaks my heart for these kids.
So much is made of the parent’s role and personal responsibility. However, I don’t think that paints the full picture.
Our children are being led down this path to obesity by the food industry.
Consider these 4 Supersized Facts the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know
1. The food industry spends $1.6 billion each year marketing to children.
An American child will see an average of 15 unhealthy food related ads each day. That statistic includes television, in-store and Internet ads.
That adds up to an average of 5,500 unhealthy food commercials viewed in a year!
These commercials are for products such as high-sugar breakfast cereals, fast food, soft drinks, candy and snacks. In contrast, an average child sees less than 100 marketing messages for healthy, whole foods in a year.
Research shows this constant exposure to unhealthy food-related ads undeniably tempts our children with unhealthy food choices. By marketing poor food choices to our children, the food industry is setting our children up for a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits.
2. Processed foods mean big profits.
The food industry doesn’t make its money from fresh fruits and vegetables. The greatest profits for the food industry come from highly processed foods, such as soda, fast food and snack foods.
Cheap government-subsidized crops, such as corn and soybeans, are processed into highly-profitable food products devoid of any real nutrition. Most of the foods that offer the highest profitability lacks fiber, micronutrients and phytochemicals.
Matthew 6:24 wisely says, “No one can serve two masters.”
The food industry can’t claim to have a stake in helping end childhood obesity but be driven by the profits of an unhealthy food system that entices our children to eat and buy more.
3. Kids don’t feel full from eating junk food.
The food industry definitely doesn’t want you to know that stripping foods of their nutritional value means it can’t satisfy even the smallest appetites.
Take the example of a Strawberry Fruit Gusher. A 1-ounce serving offers up 90 calories but no fiber. Research shows fiber is important to keep you full. So for your 90 calories, you aren’t full and need another snack.
The Strawberry Fruit Gushers also contain 13 grams of sugar.
In comparison, you need to eat 10 ounces of strawberries to equal a 90-calorie portion of strawberries. That portion, while not only larger, has 5 grams of fiber, abundant vitamins and minerals and dozens of phytochemicals. Because of the fiber and the larger serving size, the strawberries help fill a kid up with only 0.6 grams of sugar.
If you really think this through, the food industry has marketed something as a “snack” that won’t leave your child feeling full, so they will in turn need another snack.
In fact, the data shows that children are now eating three snacks per day, with 27% of their calories coming from snacks.
4. Many food industry health claims mean nothing.
By now you probably are well aware that to claim a product is “natural” does not meet anything when you read it on a product label.
Labeling food with misleading health claims is a major contributor to childhood obesity. It’s a bait-and-switch type operation–baiting us to purchase “healthy” foods that turn out to be detrimental to the health of our children.
Knowing the food industry’s tactics for enticing our kids with unhealthy choices helps us to avoid them. Making real food a priority is one step we can take to ending childhood obesity.