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In this section you'll find a series of proprietary articles

composed by Directors of YMSConsulting and it's sister

organization, E-Smart Choice

 

You can also explore related Youth Psych Tools: 

                       CLICK HERE

                                                       

 CHILDHOOD OBESITY: Technology

        and the Advertiserís Edge

                                     by

                      Robert H. Reiher, Ph.D.

Exec. VP YMS Consulting & Founder & Director E-Smart Choice

         

Childhood Obesity Today

     Today, food giants spend approximately $11 billion a year on ads that are designed to sell food and beverage products to children.  It doesnít take a rocket scientist to figure out that this massive level of financial investment must be harvesting significant profits in order for it to continue and expand. But what are the effects of food and beverage advertising to children?  Does it really have a significant role to play in todayís obesity epidemic?

     We now know that for each can of sugar sweetened soda that a child drinks during the day, they are 1.6 times more likely to become obese, according to a recent study in the medical journal Lancet. In addition, the British Medical Journal has conducted research that indicates a reduction in obesity potential of 1.6 times if children 7-11 years of age are taught to drink less soda in schools. A third study in the International Journal of Obesity has shown that male and female children that eat fast food three times or more a week have up to 40% higher calorie intakes than those children who didnít eat any fast food. Junk food and beverages are undeniably playing a significant role today in childhood obesity.

 The Advertiserís Edge

     Advertising of junk food, and sugar laden sodas plays a powerful force in the epidemic of childhood obesity in America.  But why is advertising today so powerful to children?  One answer lies in the interaction that occurs between media technology and media techniques.  The reason the advertiser has the edge over educators, for example, is that we are witnessing a synthesis of compelling media tech and compelling media techniques that have the potential to immerse children in highly entertaining but often age inappropriate and unhealthy commercial messages.

    The hidden power of how children are learning these messages, resides in the formal features or media techniques.  The formal features are the delivery system, the process that accompanies the advertiserís message.  The Super Bowl is a perfect example of showcasing the latest and greatest advances each year in combining creativity, technology, techniques and messages that are capable of both entertainment and influencing, delivering the advertiserís message in innovative, amusing and compelling ways.

    When a child is up against the combined efforts of a brilliant and experienced advertising team, using humor, fantasy, music, sound effects, celebrities, morphing, zooms, instant replay and cartoon characters, supported by almost unlimited corporate financial resources, the combination of these elements has the power to drive advertising and marketing messages to new levels of attention, the first critical step in the learning process. 

     Is the technology that drives the changing entertainment landscape going to diminish? Of course not!  In fact, just the opposite is occurring. The growth of entertainment technology is continuing to explode. Children and families are experiencing higher and more attractive ways to interact with and become ďimmersedĒ in these new and compelling entertaining technologies.

    High definition big screen TVís are becoming commonplace and affordable.  Internet capabilities are increasing the demands for video and musical downloads that are both personalized and inexpensive. As entertainment technologies and techniques continue to increase, their use for marketing and advertising to children will increase along with them.  The implications are higher and more impacting forms of amusement and distraction, combined with an often irresponsible product message and/or the promoting of unhealthy products (e.g.: fatty foods, alcohol) and programs (e.g.: ultra violent videogames).

     At YMS Consulting and E-Smart Choice we believe that if technology and techniques can be used to drive negative learning experiences, they can also be used to help children learn exciting and entertaining age appropriate food and beverage messages. Itís not the tech and technique that are the culprits, itís the accompanying message that either supports or disregards enriching the child.


 

 
     
   

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