Child marketing and obesity - Essay Example

Obesity in Kids Rises Around the World Childhood obesity is a global problem that is becoming increasingly serious. It has a major effect particularly on low- income and middle- income countries, especially in urban settings (World Health Organization, 2014). The proportion of overweight or obese children, under the age of 5 years old, has increased approximately 60% in the last twenty years. In the year 1990, the percentage of obese children globally was approximately 4. 2%, however, this figure grew to 6. 7% in the year 2010(WebMD. Com, 2010). This 6. % translates to an estimate of over 42 million and approximately 35 million of the 42 million were said to be living in developing countries (World Health Organization, 2014). It is predicted that this 6. 2% will increase further and by 2020 ill reach a figure of 9. 1% (WebMD. Com, 2010). However, it is worthy to note that the country with the highest prevalence of childhood obesity is the United States of America with one in six children being obese and one in three children being overweight (Harvard. Du, 2014). Possible measures to curb obesity involve a healthy diet and exercise plan for the entire family (monoclinic, 2014).

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It is an important aspect of a child’s life as it helps protect the child from health problems now and in the future and encourages the child to make healthy lifestyle choices in the future, when away from the home. Routine assessment from birth is recommended, as obesity may begin as early as 6 months old (WebMD. Com, 2010). Appropriate counseling to families need to be provided to educate families on proper feeding habits and alternative steps in order to ensure that the child receives proper healthcare. 3. Continue reading below…

Marketing Food and Beverage Products to Children Food marketing is process whereby consumption of products such as fast foods, fizzy drinks, sugary breakfast cereals, salty snacks, as well as, baked goods, which have a tendency to be high in fats, sugars and salt and are particularly poor in nutrition are evilly target to children (hobo. Com, 2014). Given the increasing rates of obesity globally, experts suggests that such marketing heavily contributes to an “obsolescing” environment which makes choosing healthy foods difficult, especially for children (hobo. Mom, 2014). Children and adolescents are important to marketers as they have a heavy influence on the parents’ buying decisions, they may also possess a certain amount of purchasing power and will eventually become consumers at a later stage in the life cycle . The purchasing power children and adolescents possess is often referred to as ‘pester power’. Pester power relates to the ability of the child or adolescent to pressures the parent into buying products, especially the products which have been advertised in the media (oxford dictionaries, 2014).

Many advertisements are targeted at both children and adults, using tools such as characters or celebrities in order to market products high in fat, sugar, sodium and calories as a “great source of fiber” or claim to have great source of vitamins. Food and beverage marketing toward children has shown to increase consumption of certain goods as well as preference for the advertised product (hobo. Mom, 2014). The “pester power” has increased as well, due to food and beverage marketing. 4.

Responsible Marketing Socially responsible marketing is based on the idea market offerings should not purely be based profit making but should also reinforce ethical and social values in order to benefit citizens (reestablishment’s. Com, 2013). Social responsible marketing is viewed as an extension of Corporate Social Responsibility, which is promoted as a business model of sorts and helps companies to self-regulate and recognize that its activities impact a variety of stakeholders which includes the mineral public (reestablishment’s. Mom, 2013). Corporate social responsibility includes a variety of layers, including legal, ethical and philanthropic layers. Socially responsible marketing, specifically in terms of marketing to children, has a profound effect of ethics and social values. The issue of marketing to children especially in terms of food marketing can lend itself to scrutiny about the ethical and social values relating to marketing to children.

Children are constantly surrounded by marketing and advertising aimed specifically to children, showing images which entice children n order to convince the children into using “pester power”, in order to, convince parents to buy the advertised products. Critics are concerned that offerings and advertising appeals aimed directly at children, presented to them through lovable animated characters or celebrities will overwhelm the children’s defenses, more specifically, because a child has not formed tastes, desires and preferences children have become an ultimate target for marketers (assignments. Com, 2014).

In order to encourage firms and organizations to use responsible marketing, many guidelines ND codes have been passed, as the special needs of child audiences have been recognized (assignments. Com, 2014). 5. Legal Prescriptions In South Africa, there is only one piece of legislation which protects children, it states that, advertisers: “shall not advertise in any manner, including the label of a foodstuff, to a child younger than 16 years or use a child actor younger than 16 years or use any cartoon-type character or puppet, computer animation or similar strategy or token or gift, in order to encourage the use of such foodstuff’ (goodness. O. AZ, 012) Although the law does exist in protecting children under the age of 16, the enforcement of this law is weak and many companies operating in South Africa tend to follow a code of advertising practice. Advertising content in South Africa is mostly self-regulated (sass. Org, 2014). South African advertising content is mainly governed and regulated according to the standards in a Code of Advertising Practice; this code was established by the Advertising Standards Authority (AS) of South Africa (sass. Org, 2014). The members who form the AS are advertising agencies, media resources that carry advertising and advertisers (sass. Erg, 2014). The code that specifically relates marketing food and beverages to children is shown in Appendix A. Number 7 of the code is social values and notes that children under the age of twelve are at an impressionable age and marketers need to take this into consideration, it is recommended that food and beverage advertising should not mislead children about the benefits of a products or from use of a product this may include misleading a child that a product can or will increase strength, status, popularity, growth, proficiency, as well as, intelligence (sass. G, 2014). Under the heading social values are points which state that advertising should not undermine the role of parents or guardians, this may specifically relate to the concept of “pester power” (sass. Org, 2014). This is an important part of the code as it relates directly to responsible marketing, as well as, ethics. The code also covers aspects such as misleading the audience about nutritional value of the products and encouraging excess consumption (sass. Erg, 2014). It also includes aspects such as honesty in marketing and that aspects of the advertisements need to be explained in age appropriate engage in a way that the children will understand (sass. Org, 2014). It is interesting to note that the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africans Code of Advertising Practice is based on the International Code of Advertising Practice (sass. Org, 2014).

According to the International Chamber of Commerce, the use of the International Code of Advertising Practice, aims to promote a high standard of ethics in marketing through self-regulatory codes which are intended to work hand in hand with existing national and international legislation (tactic. Org, 2014). In terms of the International Code, the basic principles are that all advertising should be truthful, honest, decent and legal, as well as, prepared with a sense of social responsibility (tactic. Org, 2014).

This is aligned directly with the codes expressed in the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africans Code of Advertising Practice. There are countries which employ statutory regulations and some countries which employ self-regulatory regulations. Australia is such a country which employs statutory regulations states that when advertising to children, an advertisement must not contain any misleading information, nor any incorrect information about nutritional facts and value of the product; this is according to the Children’s Television Standards of the Australian Broadcast Act (Hawker, 2004).

However, even though this is a statutory regulation in Australia, it also fits into the self-regulatory code which South Africa follows. In the United Kingdom, where regulations are also statutory, marketers and advertisers cannot give misleading or misguided impression of the health benefits or nutrition of the product, as with the South African self-regulatory code, the advertisement should not encourage excessive consumption of any food or drink and should not discourage good dietary practice and is listed under the Foci Advertising Standards Code in the I-J (Hawker, 2014).

Strategies Most global companies use integrated market communications strategies in the food and beverage companies, in order to reach adolescents and children (bums. Org, 2014). The integrated marketing communications strategies include all forms of communication about services and products (bums. Org, 2014). These strategies include creating special products, as well as, packaging for children (bums. Erg, 2014).

Another strategy, which global companies use is to adjust the prices of products so that it is affordable to the youth’s limited budgets and conducting numerous promotions to encourage product recall and help children to remember and prefer specific company brands, most of which do not have product offerings which are healthy (bums. Org, 2014). In the year 2007, 11 food and beverage marketers , all of whom play major roles in the industry, pledged to improve its advertising campaigns and practices, especially those which are aimed at children below the age of(bums. Org, 2014).

In South Africa, this pledge is referred to as “The South African Marketing to Children Pledge” (schoolchildren. Com, 2009). To date, many companies such as Woolworth, Nestle, Academy and McDonald’s South Africa have pledged to upholding this code (schoolchildren. Com, 2009). This pledge includes the code formed by the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (Appendix A) (schoolchildren. Com, 2009). As a case in point it may be useful to evaluate one of the world’s largest food chains and its strategy towards marketing to children, especially in South Africa.

It should be doted at this point that McDonald’s has pledged to the code formed by the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (schoolchildren. Com, 2009). One of the main issue critics have with McDonald’s is the toys which come with the McDonald’s Happy Meals for children. McDonald’s was accused of deceptive marketing practices especially to children as the toys that come with the meals was said to lure the children into buying Happy Meals (independent. O. UK, 2013). However, as of recent, as a call to encourage healthy eating, McDonald’s has risen to the challenge, and has introduced a series of healthy alternatives, apple slices, sweet Ron or a salad instead of the usual fries and milk instead of the usual fizzy drink (independent. Co. UK, 2013). McDonald’s has also ensured portion sizes remain decent and does not encourage over consumption in South Africa by minimizing the size of a “super-size”.

Even though McDonald’s South Africa still offers a toy with its Happy Meal, the focus of its adverts is no longer about the toy as it has done in the past, the company has also increased its focus to marketing to parents and adults instead of solely focusing on children. In addition, through the use of the character of Ronald McDonald, McDonald’s has been able to attract children, however, in the past this has been through luring kids into buying the products.

Today, McDonald’s uses the lovable character as a role model, in an effort to curb obesity in children McDonald’s is involved in youth and sports, encouraging regular exercise in the communities, as well as supporting local charities and educating children on healthy lifestyles (Hotel and Restaurants, 2014). McDonald’s also aims to use fresh produce in making its products as well as refusing to use genetically modified products in the making of its IANAL products. Globally, McDonald’s has begun adding fruits and vegetables to its Happy Meals, in order to get children to associate healthy products such a fruits with fun.

This will encourage children to eat fruits and vegetables on a more regular basis. In conclusion, it is clear to see that obesity in children is a global problem and companies around the world are rising to the challenge in order to better protect the consumers of tomorrow. It is also interesting to note that although many countries do not have statutory regulations pertaining to marketing to children, that many impasses have taken as its own responsibility to follow a socially responsible and ethical means of advertising.