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Responsible Marketing

Marketing and child obesity – a (Mc)Chicken or (Mc)Egg question

By February 19, 2016March 17th, 2021No Comments

Observe a child and parent in a store. That high-pitched whining you’ll hear coming from the cereal aisle is more than just the pleadings of single kid bent on getting a box of Fruit Loops into the shopping cart. It is the sound of thousands of hours of market research, of an immense coordination of people, ideas and resources, of decades of social and economic change all rolled into a single, ‘Mommy, pleeeeease!’

– Dan cook, Assistant Professor of Advertising and Sociology at the University of Illinois


One of the most prevailing problems in America is child obesity. The statistics are heavy — according to the Center for Disease Control, 21% of adolescents and 18% of children are obese. So what caused this epidemic of overweight children? Dare we say marketing?

Chew on these stats (try not to choke!):

  • The spending power of children in America is in the area of $1 trillion (who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie?)
  • Advertisers spend more than $12 billion per year to market to children (That’s some serious bacon!)
  • Children view more than 40,000 commercials per year (110 per day, 4.6 per hour — get the picture?)
  • 50% of all children ads are for candies, snacks, sugary cereals, and fast food (A apple a day keeps the…)
  • 99% of all fast-food ads targeting kids were placed by McDonalds and Burger King  (Beef!)
  • In February 2011, over 350,000 children under 12 visited and (Show me the beef! Wait, that’s Wendy’s…)
  • 79% of the more than 25,00 fast-food ads aimed at kids aired on four channels: Nicktoons, Disney XD, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon – (yeah, they know what they’re doing)

Correlation? Definitely. Causation?

We’ll let you digest that.


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