Mar 28

Junk food and television

In the US as far back as 1979, the FTC was calling for a ban on all advertising during blocks targeted at children younger than twelve years of age. Junk food advertising was a particular concern.

Just a few years ago, in the UK, there was move to ban junk food ads targeting children. And for a while now, TV chef personality Jamie Oliver has had a strong campaign to get children eating better food in schools. I gather that hasn’t gone down all that well in the US (and have read speculation that it’s simply down to the idea that the truth hurts). Nevertheless, whether people want to hear it or not, concerns about junk food and children’s health come up time and time again.

But the thing is, children love junk food.

They really love it.

So… shouldn’t we just let them have it?


I’m guessing most will answer no. Unless you own a McDonalds franchise, in which case you’re probably shouting a big McYes! But some of us, especially parents, don’t want children just to indulge themselves.

Because it’s not good for them, is it?

Just because they like it doesn’t mean they should have it.

As a parent, I feel it’s the same for children’s television. The television model has traditionally existed to feed children what they want. Ratings are everything and, understandably, few broadcasters want to put up the TV equivalent of broccoli up there on screen.

And yet indulging the desire for junk food television can in no way be a good thing. As it happens, there are quite a few good shows out there, especially in preschool. And there are many more really entertaining shows that, personally, I’d call ‘neutral’. But it would be great if we could all strive to make the healthy alternatives a little less alternative and work towards making them the norm.

Just like Jamie Oliver.

2 thoughts on “Junk food and television

  1. Andy Latham

    Some pucker thoughts there brother!! 😛

    Is it possible to do the equivalent of disguising vegetables as food that kids like? Well, without going down the “He-Man tells us the moral at the end of the episode” route.

  2. Jay Post author

    Well there is a show called Lazy Town which refers to vegetables as ‘sport candy’ which is kind of funny. They have a great health mission but, as it happens, it doesn’t play well for my kids because they have a weird bad guy, which seems totally unnecessary to me. But I appreciate what they’re doing. If anything, that shows how hard it is to get everything right.


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