Wow! That’s Dora the Explorer on a box of frozen treats. And you know what Dora’s discovered inside that box? High fructose corn syrup, liquid sugar and a bunch of great dyes. Good sleuthing, Dora!
But wait! Her image is there to attract, not educate, young consumers, and it works, making bad-for-you food youngsters’ top picks. That’s why the fast-food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children. And the total spent annually by the food and beverage industry targeting kids? Around $2 billion!
If you think you and your children are able to resist kids-you-gotta-eat-this-to-be-happy-and-cool marketing, think again. Researchers say even five years after kids are exposed to unhealthy food ads, they select fewer fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and increase their consumption of fast and fried foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. And the damage doesn’t stop there: Intergenerational advertising targets not only today’s kids but their kids as well by establishing lifelong brand preferences. No wonder the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that 1 in 3 U.S. adults will have diabetes by 2050 — and those adults are your kids and grandkids!
What can you do about the onslaught? Talk to your children. Explain that just because Dora’s picture is on a box doesn’t mean the food in the box is good for them. Then offer great-tasting alternatives. Buy fruit that kids can blend and freeze into tasty pops. And educate them about how important it is to feed your body the healthy fuel it needs to stay strong, smart and happy.
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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.