Early in the 20th century, urban squalor was emerging
as an unsettling fact of American life, and there was great concern in
the US over undernourished children. "At least one-third of all industrial
families in the United States are underfed," concluded one 1911 study
of Americans' standard of living.(1) Nervous parents measured their
kids against weight and height charts. Public health officials sounded
a continuous alarm. Dr. Josephine Baker, head of New York City's Department
of Health, worried that malnutrition was "the most serious and widespread
physical defect found among school children."(2) These concerns continued
into the Great Depression, and gave rise to the National School Lunch
program, among other measures. Combined with the general prosperity that
followed World War II, these measures were a stunning success. In 1955,
a government expert wrote that the evidence "supports the conclusion
that the nation as a whole is fairly well fed."(3)
There are still malnourished kids today. But in recent decades the malnourishment
problem has been eclipsed by an opposite one: fat kids. Kids who eat too
much and don't exercise enough. Kids, in short, who are sadly obedient
to the commercial messages that besiege them, literally, from morning
The rise of childhood obesity in America is part of a larger story: how
corporations have laid claim to children's imagination and play-to childhood
itself. In the process of redefining children as "consumers,"
as the open maws at the end of a giant marketing machine, corporations
have redefined as well the nature of childhood disease. Increasingly,
our children suffer not from the results of infection or lack, but from
the role the commercial culture has assigned them-from occupational illness,
one might say.
Of these occupational illnesses of childhood, obesity is probably the
greatest. Certainly it is the most apparent, as a visit to just about
any elementary school or mall will confirm. Depending on how you measure
it, between 15 and 24 percent of American children are overweight-a threefold
increase since the early 1970s.(4) "The No. 1 health problem in the
United States is not SARS," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "It is not
emerging infectious diseases. It is the epidemic of obesity that we are
watching unfold before our very eyes."(5) Adds James Hill, director
of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health
Sciences Center, "If these trends continue, within a few generations
every American will be overweight."(6)
The Tragedy of Childhood Obesity
The epidemic of childhood obesity is a tragedy for many reasons, and portends
poorly for the health of our entire nation in the coming decades. Obese
children have a low quality of life; the quality of life of severely obese
children is similar to that of kids with cancer.(7) Obese children also
have a strong predisposition to become obese adults, with a greater likelihood
of developing a battery of serious chronic diseases, including diabetes,
cardiovascular disease, and in the end, shorter life spans.
The obesity epidemic has spawned an epidemic of diabetes. The CDC recently
warned that, if current trends continue, one in three Americans born in
2000 will develop diabetes. If the CDC's predictions are correct, 45 to
50 million Americans could have diabetes by 2050, according to Dr. Kevin
McKinney, assistant professor of endocrinology at the University of Texas
Medical Branch in Galveston. "There is no way that the medical community
could keep up with that," he said.(8)
The obesity epidemic and its effects are striking younger and younger
children. Amazingly, the warning signs of strokes and heart attacks can
be detected even in children as young as two years.(9) Type 2 diabetes,
once known as "adult-onset" diabetes, now afflicts adolescents
and even children. When these children grow up, they will face complications
such as amputations, blindness, heart attacks, and kidney failure. Pediatricians
think that the rise in type 2 diabetes can be attributed almost entirely
to the obesity epidemic.
Why Childhood Obesity Came to the US
How did this happen? America is the richest nation in the world, and therefore
should be the healthiest. How has it instead concocted a new epidemic
to spread among its children? Though the forces had been gathering for
decades, they came into full bloom in the 1970s, when the trend line of
childhood obesity began to rise steeply.
There are many causes. Most children today sit too much and play too little.
They spend too much of the day riding in cars and staring at video screens.
They eat food designed for the health of corporate balance sheets rather
than the health of children's bodies. But under all of this runs the persistent
theme of how corporations have insinuated themselves into virtually every
corner of children's lives, and written the master script for children's
interactions with their own families and with society at large.
There was a time, not that long ago, when parents decided what and when
their kids ate. Today that seems a fond memory, even nostalgia. Parents
find themselves increasingly on the defensive, fending off, deflecting,
combating, and all too often making grudging compromises with the cravings
that corporate marketers conjure in their kids. In the case of food, those
cravings generally are for things that parents wish their children didn't
want, and with good reason: almost without exception, they are foods that
might as well have been specifically designed to make kids fat.
The assault began after World War II, but not until the 1970s did its
physical effects on children began to become unmistakable. It was then
that the marketing itself reached a point of critical mass. The
corporate redefining of childhood employed four main tools: television,
the marketing of junk food, the commercial takeover of the schools, and
the starvation of the public sector. These invasions of children's lives
took place at a time when children were increasingly vulnerable because
their parents were working more, and there were more single-parent families
and less supervision at home.
Television and Obesity
Television literally is an obesity machine-both because of what it
shows and the way it affects children's lives. It gives advertisers a
way to walk through the front door of the home and speak directly to children.
The average American child watches 19 hours and 40 minutes of TV per week-more
than a thousand hours each year.(10) That means an annual exposure to
thousands of commercials for junk food and fast food. Then there's all
the lost playtime-during those 20 hours each week, children aren't physically
active. Medical research confirms just what you'd expect: the more TV
children watch, the more likely they are to be overweight.(11) "We
are literally living ourselves sick, and television plays a large role
in this downward spiral," wrote Mohammad N. Akhter, MD, when he was
executive director of the American Public Health Association.(12)
Not surprisingly, childhood obesity is worse in some minority communities.
Part of the reason is that African American children watch more TV on
average than do other children. African American teens watch 40 percent
more primetime TV and nearly twice as much daytime TV as other teens.(13)
They do so in part because they are more likely to live in places where
it's unsafe to play in the park or the street. They also often receive
less adult supervision, which means more opportunities for corporate marketers
to intrude on their lives. And kids who have the least are the most impressionable,
because they naturally hunger for what they lack. That means, among other
things, burgers, fries, chocolate shakes, and soft drinks.
It is no dark mystery to parents that ads have an effect. Even the cautious
federal science bureaucracy has acknowledged this to some degree. For
example, back in 1977, the National Science Foundation concluded that
advertising is "at least moderately successful" in creating
"desire for the products advertised."(14) When junk-food companies
realized the power that TV marketing has over children, they invested
heavily in it; the resultant rise in the marketing of junk foods was coextensive
the rise in childhood obesity.
What is noteworthy-and utterly revealing-about advertising to children
is that it almost always is for things most parents would not themselves
choose for their kids, especially in regard to food. Turn on Saturday-morning
TV: How many ads do you see for nutritious foods? In 1978, the Federal
Trade Commission concluded that "The largest single part of the television
advertising addressed specifically to children is for sugared foods."(15)
It has long been understood that young children are especially vulnerable
to marketing messages. "Many young children-including an apparent
majority of those under the age of eight-are so naïve," concluded
the Federal Trade Commission in 1978, that "they cannot perceive
the selling purpose of television advertising or otherwise comprehend
or evaluate it and tend . . . to view commercials simply as a form of
'informational programming.' "(16)
But even PBS helps market junk food to our youngest children. In recent
years, Teletubbies, a PBS television program targeted to toddlers, has
made cross-marketing deals with McDonald's and Burger King, both of which
sell high-calorie fast food. "Teletubbies was a great promo partner,"
gushed Cindy Syracuse, then Burger King's manager for youth and family
Marketing Junk Food and Soft Drinks to Kids
McDonald's first national ad campaign, in 1967, was an unexpectedly
huge success: 10 million kids wrote in to pick floats for Macy's Thanksgiving
Day Parade. From then it was off to the races. McDonald's advertising
director put this battle cry on his wall: "Early to bed / Early to
rise / Advertise / Advertise / Advertise."(18) Since then, McDonald's
has been masterful in its use of beloved characters to sell its high-calorie
fast food. Among others, McDonald's has employed Winnie-the-Pooh, 101
Dalmatians, Nemo, Furby, Tarzan, and Beanie Babies to sell its Happy Meals.
Fast-food marketers such as McDonald's and Burger King have reshaped the
diets of American parents and kids, and the rise in fast-food consumption
has paralleled the boom in the incidence of childhood obesity. Between
1977 and 1995, the percentage of meals and snacks eaten at fast-food restaurants
doubled. This has been especially devastating to the health of children.
Because fast food is typically so high in sugar, fat, and calories, these
meals can quickly add pounds to a kid's waistline. In a study published
in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that, compared
to adolescents who did not eat at fast-food restaurants, boys and girls
who ate fast food three times in the previous week had astoundingly higher
calorie intakes: 40 and 37 percent, respectively.(19)
The increase in soft-drink consumption has been similarly damaging to
children's health. Between 1977 and 1996, soda consumption among 12 to
19 year olds increased 75 percent for boys, 40 percent for girls.(20)
According to a study in The Lancet, for each can of soda drunk each day,
a child is 1.6 times more likely to become obese, all other things held
Soft-drink companies use every trick in the book to hook kids on their
high-sugar, caffeinated products. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been especially
effective in marketing to children. Coca-Cola paid Warner Bros. an estimated
$150 million for global marketing rights for the film Harry Potter and
the Sorcerer's Stone.(22) "The Coca-Cola Company recognized the wealth
of possibilities inherent in [Harry Potter] for engaging the world's adults
and children," explained Brad Ball, then President of Domestic Marketing
for Warner Bros. Pictures, now Warner Bros. Entertainment. (23) Product
placement, too, is great at implanting brands in the minds of children.
When the movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial featured E.T. eating Reese's
Pieces, sales of the candy shot up 65 percent; Hershey, maker of Reese's
Pieces, had to put two factories on 24-hour production schedules to meet
Product placements can now be found in nearly every medium children watch,
and have taken over commercial television. Coca-Cola has been heavily
featured in product placements on American Idol and the teen-targeted,
short-lived Young Americans, which the New York Daily News called "a
slick, thinly disguised commercial" for Coke.(25) Pepsi is featured
heavily in the WB network show Pepsi Smash, and Mountain Dew was showcased
in the CBS reality shows Survivor and Survivor II.
Product placements have even spread throughout children's books. Junk
foods now featured in children's books include Hershey's chocolates, M&M's,
Froot Loops, Reese's Pieces, Oreo cookies, and Skittles. "It's not
that these books resemble advertising-they are advertising," said
Kate Klimo, vice president and publisher of Random House Books for Young
The Commercial Takeover of the Schools
Years ago, public schools used to be places where good nutrition was
taught. For example, in the 1920s, as a part of the home economics movement,
millions of schoolchildren were taught about proper nutrition, and which
foods contained the nutrients they needed to grow.(27)
To counteract this, junk-food marketers tried to invade the schools, but
for decades their presence was relatively insignificant. Still, they had
some successes. For example, a Texas Coke bottler bragged in 1931 about
how "the kids play basketball at recess on Coca-Cola goals,"
he wrote, "use Coca-Cola blotters to blot out their troubles, consult
a Coca-Cola thermometer, and write their notes on Coca-Cola tablets. Can
you beat that?"(28)
The curriculum of junk nutrition began in earnest in 1989, with the launch
of Channel One, an in-school TV marketing program. Chris Whittle, Channel
One's founder, had the ingenious idea of harnessing the schools to show
daily 12-minute TV broadcasts that included two minutes of ads. Since
then, Channel One, now owned by Primedia, has been adopted by 12,000 schools.
About 8 million children watch its ads for Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Hostess
Twinkies, M&M's, Snickers, and the like.
"Channel One is the most effective way that junk-food marketers have
gotten to children, because of the captive audience and the impact of
watching it with your peer group," explains Jim Metrock, president
of Obligation, Inc. According to a study by Obligation, during the past
five school years, 27 percent of Channel One's ads were for junk food
or soda pop.(29)
Schools have become a paradise for junk-food marketers. Vending machines
stocked with candy and soft drinks are rife: Nearly 19 out of 20 high
schools have vending machines that sell soda, while nearly 60 percent
of elementary schools do. More than 70 percent of high schools sell chocolate
candy in vending machines.(30)
Hundreds of school districts have signed marketing contracts in which
a school district promises exclusive access to Coke or Pepsi in return
for extra cash. Incredibly, these contracts often include financial incentives
for school districts to sell more Coke or Pepsi. These schools have become
Nor is it only public schools that are putting themselves up for sale;
leading organizations, too, are getting into the act. The venerable National
PTA, which for more than a century has promoted the health of children,
now lists Coca-Cola Enterprises as a "proud sponsor."'
"Corporate sponsors are not new to nonprofits, but they are fairly
new to us," then-PTA President Shirley Igo told the Washington Post.
"We really need them. Our budget is very thin and if we didn't have
them, we wouldn't be able to develop new programs."(31)
Even worse, Coca-Cola Enterprises' senior vice president for public affairs,
John Downs, Jr., was recently appointed to serve as an at-large member
on the National PTA's Board of Directors. Downs is the point man for Coca-Cola
Enterprises regarding the marketing of soft drinks to kids in schools.(32)
In effect, the National PTA is now run, in part, by Coca-Cola.
Such corruption isn't limited to the National PTA. Even some dentists
have gotten their own Coke deals. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
(AAPD) recently received a $1 million contribution from the Coca-Cola
Foundation.(33) "I'm surprised that AAPD is willing to be co-opted
in this way, and for relatively little money in the scheme of things.
The Academy's leadership should resign," said Michael Jacobson, executive
director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.(34)
It's no surprise that companies will pay so much to advertise in schools.
Advertisers know that their presence in the schools can pay off for years,
if not decades, if they can hook kids for life on their products. Schoolchildren
are "a captive audience and in a world where kids are torn between
the Internet, [instant messaging], sports, TV and radio, school is the
place where marketers can find them in an uncluttered environment,"
said Tom Harris, vice president of sales and marketing for the National
Theatre for Children, which helps corporations market to children in elementary
and middle schools.(35)
Fast-food companies, too, now have a big presence in the schools. It's
a great way for them to bypass parents and promote their high-fat products
to children. At least one out of every five schools now contains a fast-food
The President is AWOL
Years ago, US presidents cared about the health of American children
and strove to improve it. When he signed the National School Lunch Act
into law in 1946, Harry S Truman said that "no nation is any healthier
than its children." Later that year, Truman expanded on this theme:
"The well nourished school child is a better student. He is healthier
and more alert. He is developing good food habits which will benefit him
for the rest of his life. In short, he is a better asset for his country
in every way."
You'd think that would be a sentiment that President Bush could embrace.
He is, after all, an avid athlete, a poster boy for physical fitness.
He runs three miles a day, six days a week, at an impressive pace for
his age. He lifts weights, and can bench-press five reps of 185 pounds.
Again, impressive. But the Bush Administration has done little to counter
the epidemic of childhood obesity. It is more devoted to its friends-and
big campaign donors-in the junk-food industry than it is to our kids.
For example, when the CDC launched "Verb Now," their $125 million
"anti-obesity" campaign, they chose as their partners the same
big-media companies that are pushing fatty foods and couch-potato habits
on the nation's kids: AOL Time Warner, Viacom, Primedia, and others. For
their lead ad agency, the CDC chose the Publicis Groupe's Frankel division,
despite the fact that Publicis has an advertising contract with McDonald's.
Given such conflicts of interest, it's not surprising that the campaign
is ineffective. The ads are based on the ridiculous premise that one can
motivate children to exercise by talking about grammar. Carrie McLaren,
a schoolteacher who showed a CDC ad to her students, explained that "None
of the kids had any idea what the ad was about. They guessed maybe grammar
or reading or after-school programs."
Last year, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson even urged
the junk-food lobby to wage war on those who would protect children from
obesity. He told members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)
to " 'go on the offensive' against critics blaming the food industry
for obesity," according to a GMA news release.(37) GMA members include
such major junk-food companies as Coca-Cola, Mars, PepsiCo, and Philip
The Heavy Consequences of the Bush Tax Cuts
The Bush Administration has been eager to cut taxes, especially for the
wealthy, who are its most generous campaign donors. Budget deficits are
up and tax revenues are down. The net effect has been to drain federal,
state, and local governments of funds. This will likely have a big effect
on our children's waistlines.
Schools need money to keep kids thin. The national school-funding crisis
makes schools more likely to sell out to the marketers of soft drinks,
junk food, fast food, and Channel One. And when budget cuts hit a school,
one of the first things to go is physical education. Daily phys-ed classes
in grades 9 through 12 have already declined, from 42 percent in 1991
to 32 percent in 2001.(38)
Fiscal crises hurt local police, too, which in turn abets the junk-food
marketers. When police are scarce, many kids no longer have safe nearby
parks and streets to play in. Parents keep their kids indoors, gazing
at the TV and its junk-food ads.
What You Can Do
There's plenty that parents and citizens can do to stop the epidemic of
childhood obesity. Start with what you can do in your own household:
- Minimize TV watching. Put the
TV set in the closet, the attic, or somewhere else out of the way, far
from an electrical outlet.
- Don't buy soft drinks, junk
food, or fast food.
If you do those two things, your kids will likely stay
healthy and never become overweight. (The same will be true for you, too,
But to stop the childhood obesity epidemic, we must get rid of the powerful
government policies that promote it. It's time for the government to side
with parents, and not with the junk-food companies who want to hook their
kids for life on their high-calorie products. "Our politicians need
to find the courage to stand up to corporations that are selling our children
shortened lives," explains Gerald Haas, MD, an assistant professor
of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.(39) That means starting in the
schools. Most kids eat about one-quarter to one-half of their meals in
school. By improving what schools feed to children and stopping schools
from marketing junk food, we'll go a long way toward halting the childhood
This is happening all over the country. We're winning. Parents are ridding
the schools of junk-food marketers. (See sidebar, "Recent Victories.")
The single best thing you can do is to tell your school-board members
and state legislators to implement the Childhood Obesity Prevention Agenda,
which has been endorsed by dozens of top obesity researchers and prominent
public health groups. (See sidebar, "Childhood Obesity Prevention
Agenda for States, Municipalities, and School Boards.")
You can also encourage your Congressional representative to support the
Parents' Bill of Rights (see http://www.commercialalert.org/pbor.pdf
and the January-February 2003 issue of Mothering, no. 116), which would
ban marketing to kids under 12, mandate disclosure of product placements,
require chain restaurants to put calorie and nutritional information on
labels, and revoke the tax subsidy that corporations receive for marketing
Finally, healthy kids require healthy state, school, and municipal budgets.
Those budgets buy good food for schoolchildren, hire gym teachers, build
gym facilities, and keep parks clean and safe so that kids can play outside
without their parents worrying about them.
If we're going to stop the childhood obesity epidemic, we've got to stop
the fiscal policies that are starving federal, state, and local government
of funds. That means repealing the Bush tax cuts and sending some of that
money back to the states, cities, police departments, and schools that
Sidebar #1: Recent Victories
Dates in parentheses indicate when the legislation was approved or signed
- California: banned sale of junk
food and soda in elementary schools and sale of soda in middle schools
as of 1/1/04 (10/01).
- Texas: banned sale of soda,
candy, and foods of minimal nutritional value from hallways, lunchrooms,
common areas during mealtimes (4/02).
- Los Angeles: banned sale of
soda in all L.A. public schools as of 1/1/04 (8/02).
- Nashville: banned Channel One
from Nashville public schools (9/02).
- New York City: banned candy,
soda, and other unhealthy snacks from vending machines, and improved
school meals (6/03).
- Oakland, California: banned
sale of soda, candy from Oakland public schools (12/01).
- Philadelphia: announced plan
to ban sale of soda from all Philadelphia public-school vending machines
not in faculty lounges (7/03).
- San Francisco: banned sale of
soda, candy in cafeterias as of 2003-2004 school year (1/03).
- Seattle: banned Channel One
from Seattle public schools as of 2004-2005 school year (11/01).
Sidebar #2: Childhood Obesity Prevention Agenda for States, Municipalities,
and School Boards
American children are suffering from an epidemic of obesity. In spite
of this, purveyors of junk food increasingly are able to use public schools
as a platform for their marketing campaigns. In effect, the junk-food
lobby has latched on to the compulsory school laws as a way to corral
a captive audience of impressionable children.
Parents should guide the eating habits of their kids. Corporations have
no business wedging into that relationship. Schools should support parents
in this. We are what we eat, as the old saying goes; and in this the schools
play an important part, for good or ill. Schools should encourage healthful
eating habits and exercise. They should not become marketing zones and
shopping centers in which junk-food manufacturers get open access to impressionable
WE CALL ON STATE AND LOCAL OFFICIALS TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN BY PROHIBITING
THE MARKETING AND SALE OF JUNK FOOD IN SCHOOLS.
Schools should help parents promote good nutrition, rather than support
junk-food companies that promote products high in added sugar and fat.
1. States, municipalities, and school boards should prohibit the marketing
of junk food on school property.
- Prohibit contracts that obligate
children to watch or listen to ads for junk food on school property.
An example is Channel One, an in-school TV marketing program.
- Prohibit display of visual advertisements
for junk food in school, such as billboards, signs, posters, and logo
- Prohibit the use of corporate-sponsored
curricula featuring or promoting junk-food products.
- Prohibit exclusive marketing
("pouring rights") contracts between soda beverage companies
and school districts, school food-service agencies, and school groups.
Schools should make healthful food available to children.
2. States, municipalities, and school boards should ban the sale or distribution
of junk food on school property.
- Prohibit sale of junk food on
school property, including, but not limited to, à la carte, before-school,
or after-school programs, concession stands, or vending machines.
- Prohibit the distribution of
junk food as a reward or prize for good behavior or exemplary performance.
- Prohibit distribution of free
samples of junk food on school property.
- Amend Unfair and Deceptive Acts
and Practices statutes and ordinances to prohibit marketing of junk
food to children on school property.
Schools should be rewarded for exceeding federal nutrition
3. States, municipalities, and school boards should provide financial
rewards to school districts, schools, and food-service agencies that exceed
federal nutrition guidelines and obey restrictions on the sale of junk
food in schools.
- School districts and school
food-service agencies should exceed the nutritional standards of the
National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, especially
by providing plenty of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fat-free
dairy products, and local and organic products, but no foods with hydrogenated
vegetable shortening, and few or no fried foods.
- School districts and school
food-service agencies must strictly comply with the federal competitive
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have defined
junk food as "foods which provide calories primarily through fats
or added sugars and have minimal amounts of vitamins and minerals."
The Childhood Obesity Prevention Agenda is endorsed by leading scientists
and obesity experts from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, Yale, and other
major research institutions, along with the American College of Preventive
Medicine, Center for a New American Dream, Center for Food and Justice,
Center for Media Education, Center for Science in the Public Interest,
Connecticut Public Health Association, Eagle Forum, Green Party of the
United States, Maryland Public Health Association, Massachusetts Public
Health Association, Michigan Public Health Association, New Mexico Public
Health Association, Organic Consumers Association, Science and Environmental
Health Network, Stonyfield Farm, and the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research
Other prominent endorsers include: Lawrence Cheskin (director, Johns
Hopkins Weight Management Center); Greg Critser (author, Fat Land); Frances
Moore Lappé (author, Diet for a Small Planet); Marion Nestle (author,
Food Politics); Peggy O'Mara (publisher and editor, Mothering magazine);
Alvin Poussaint (Harvard Medical School); Raffi (children's troubadour);
Ellen Ruppel Shell (author, The Hungry Gene); Walter Willett (Harvard
School of Public Health).
The Childhood Obesity Prevention Agenda was created by Commercial Alert.
Sidebar#3: What Defines Childhood
Most scientists use the term overweight, rather than obesity, for children.
But the two terms are synonymous.
The most widely used definition for overweight among children is based
on the 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts for
the US for each age group.1 Overweight is defined as at or exceeding the
95th percentile of Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a person's weight (in
kilograms) divided by the square of their height (in meters). Children
considered at risk for overweight are typically defined as at or above
the 85th percentile of BMI, but below the 95th percentile. But the definitions
of obesity and overweight among children differ in epidemiological studies.
If you know you child's height and weight, you can calculate their BMI
at the website www.keepkidshealthy.com/welcome/bmicalculator.html.
1. 2000 CDC Growth Charts: United States. www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/. See also
Cynthia Ogden et al., "Prevalence and Trends in Overweight among
US Children and Adolescents, 1999-2000," Journal of the American
Medical Association 288 (October 9, 2002): 1728-1732.
NOTES FOR ARTICLE
1. Frank Streightoff, The Standard of Living Among the Industrial People
of America (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1911), quoted in Harvey Levenstein,
Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet (Los
Angeles: University of California Press, 2003), 113.
2. Harvey Levenstein, Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the
American Diet (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003), 114-115.
3. Margaret Reid, "Food, Liquor, and Tobacco," in J. Friedrich
Dewhurst et al., eds., America's Needs and Resources (New York: Twentieth
Century Fund, 1955), 165-166. Quoted in Harvey Levenstein, Paradox of
Plenty: A Social History of Eating in America (Los Angeles: University
of California Press, 2003), 135.
4. Cynthia Ogden et al., "Prevalence and Trends in Overweight Among
US Children and Adolescents, 1999-2000," Journal of the American
Medical Association 288 (9 October 2002): 1728-1732. Richard P. Troiano
and Katherine M. Flegal, "Overweight Children and Adolescents: Description,
Epidemiology, and Demographics," Pediatrics 101, no. 3 (March 1998):
5. "Commencement Speeches a Part of Graduation Day," CBS Morning
Show, 9 June 2003.
6. Carol Lynn Mithers, "From Baby Fat to Obesity: Why Kids Even as
Young as 2 Are Developing Weight Problems," Parenting, October 2001.
7. Jeffrey B. Schwimmer et al., "Health-Related Quality of Life of
Severely Obese Children and Adolescents," Journal of the American
Medical Association 289 (9 April 2003): 1813-1819.
8. "CDC Issues Diabetes Warning for Children," Diabetes Week,
7 July 2003.
9. Ron Winslow, "Heart Disease Hits the Preschool Set: New Research
Shows Warning Signs Begin in Early Childhood," Wall Street Journal,
18 March 2003.
10. Nielsen Media Research, "2000 Report on Television": 14.
11. Ross E. Andersen et al., "Relationship of Physical Activity and
Television Watching with Body Weight and Level of Fatness Among Children,"
Journal of the American Medical Association 279, no. 12 (25 March 1998):
12. Mohammad N. Akhter, "Another Reason to Turn the Television Off,"
Baltimore Sun, 6 May 1999.
13. Nielsen Media Research, "2000 Report on Television."
14. "Research on the Effects of Television Advertising on Children:
A Review of the Literature and Recommendations for Future Research"
(Washington: National Science Foundation, 1977), i.
15. "FTC Staff Report on Television Advertising to Children,"
Federal Trade Commission (February 1978): 2.
16. Ibid.: 1.
17. Louise Kramer, "McD's Steals Another Toy from BK; Teletubbies
Set Move to Top Chain as 'Toy Story'-Pokemon War Looms," Advertising
Age, 15 November 1999.
18. Max Boas and Steve Chain, Big Mac: The Unauthorized Story of McDonald's
(New York: New American Library, 1976), 106-109.
19. S. A. French et al., "Fast Food Restaurant Use among Adolescents:
Associations with Nutrient Intake, Food Choices and Behavioral and Psychosocial
Variables," International Journal of Obesity 25 (2001): 1823-1833.
20. Michael F. Jacobson, Center for Science in the Public Interest, "Liquid
Candy: How Soft Drinks Are Harming Americans' Health." Citing US
Department of Agriculture Nationwide Food Consumption Survey, 1977-78;
Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individual, 1987-88, 1994-96.
21. David Ludwig et al., "Relation between Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened
Drinks and Childhood Obesity: A Prospective, Observational Analysis,"
The Lancet 357 (17 February 2001): 505-508.
22. Henry Unger, "Coca-Cola Looks for a Little Magic to Rub off from
Harry Potter Film," Atlanta Journal Constitution, 20 February 2001.
23. "The Coca-Cola Company and Warner Bros. Pictures to Share the
Magical Experience of Reading with 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,'
" Coca-Cola-Warner Bros. news release, 20 February 2001.
24. Vernon Scott, " 'E.T.' Invades Five More Continents," United
Press International, 6 November 1982.
25. Eric Mink, "WB Yet Again Leans on the 'Young' & Clichéd,'
" New York Daily News, 12 July 2000.
26. David Kirkpatrick, "Snack Foods Become Stars of Books for Children,"
New York Times, 22 September 2000.
27. See Note 2: 156-157.
28. Mark Pendergrast, For God, Country and Coca-Cola (New York: Collier
Books, 1993), 182.
30. "Fact Sheet: Foods and Beverages Sold Outside of the School Meal
Programs," School Health Policies and Programs Study, Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (2000): www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/shpps/factsheets/fs01_foods_sold_outside_school.htm.
31. Caroline E. Mayer, "PTA Turning to Corporate Sponsors for Funds;
Donation From Coca-Cola to National Group Opposed by Some Parents,"
Washington Post, 21 June 2003.
32. Scott Leith, "Coca-Cola Enterprises Defends Presence in Schools,"
Atlanta Journal Constitution, 6 April 2003.
33. Marian Burros, "Dental Group is Under Fire for Coke Deal,"
New York Times, 4 March 2003.
34. "Pediatric Dentists Accused of Selling Out to Coke," Center
for Science in the Public Interest news release, 4 March 2003, www.cspinet.org/new/200303041.html.
35. Caroline Mayer, "A Growing Marketing Strategy: Get 'Em While
They're Young; Firms Sponsor School Activities and Books," Washington
Post, 3 June 2003.
36. See Note 30.
37. "Top Administration Officials Brief GMA Board: Thompson, Hubbard,
McClellan Give Views," Grocery Manufacturers Association news release,
12 November 2002, www.gmabrands.com/news/docs/NewsRelease.cfm?DocID=1028&.
38. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dash/yrbs/.
39. Gerald Haas, MD, "Fast Food, Fat Kids," Boston Globe, 23
For more information about children as consumers, see the following articles
in past issues of Mothering: "Why They Whine: How Corporations Prey
on Our Children," no. 97, and "Raising Children Free of Food
and Weight Problems," no. 52.
Gary Ruskin, firstname.lastname@example.org,
is executive director of Commercial Alert, a nonprofit organization that
protects children and communities from commercialism. Commercial Alert
has extensive materials on childhood obesity on its website, www.commercialalert.org
<------article ends here------->
For more information about childhood obesity, see Commercial Alert's
childhood obesity web page at: http://www.commercialalert.org/index.php/category_id/5/subcategory_id/72/article_id/176
ABOUT COMMERCIAL ALERT:
Commercial Alert is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is
to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent
it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family,
community, environmental integrity and democracy. For more information,
go to http://www.commercialalert.org.