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Are Junk Food Advertisements Making Our Children Obese?

They say we eat with our eyes, and it's not far from the truth. How often have you drooled over a delicious looking recipe in a magazine, or a tasty looking image you've seen online? The sight of a tasty meal can tantalise the taste buds and have us heading straight to the fridge, or at least thinking about what we might rustle up later that day.

And the same goes for children, who are just as easily influenced by the imagery they see around them. But can food related advertisements be having a negative effect on our children, even leading to obesity?

Irish Heart, which works to prevent heart disease and stroke in Ireland, has launched a campaign aimed at preventing childhood obesity and seeking tighter restrictions on junk brands marketing to children. 

The Stop Targeting Kids campaign hosts a petition calling on the Irish government to regulate online and social media marketing of junk food and to strengthen a ban on junk food TV ads during children’s programming. 
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The petition aims to mobilise parents to show the government that more should be done to prevent junk brands unregulated access to children across digital platforms – it hopes to mobilise 30,000 people over the next year and is encouraging everyone to sign and up, support their campaign and share the campaign videos on digital platforms.

The campaign is based on the unequivocal evidence of a causal link between the marketing of junk brands and childhood obesity.

This Is Deeply Worrying:

Children spend on average three hours a day online while childhood obesity is a serious problem in Ireland with one in four children overweight or obese.  Children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure, the single biggest risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

What Can Be Done?

It’s important that children develop healthy eating habits they can carry with them into adulthood. But constant exposure to marketing of unhealthy snacks and foods has changed the reality of what constitutes a normal diet. In the short-term a poor diet can affect a child's behaviour, concentration, learning ability and mood, as well as causing problems with bone health, breathing difficulties and insulin resistance. 

A recent Ipsos MRBI study showed that 76% of respondents support a ban on the marketing of unhealthy products to children on digital media. This poll carried out by Irish Heart represents a clear message from the public that it wants action to halt the relentless targeting of children online.

This article has been sponsored by Irish Heart. You can support Irish Heart’s drive to tackle childhood obesity by signing up to the Stop Targeting Kids campaign here.


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