Some people like the proverb “We are what we eat”. Partially this is correct, healthy food plays a vitally important role in our lives, however very often people don’t have time, don’t have wish or simply don’t have enough knowledge for improving their eating habits and passions. Studies, conducted in the Scripps Research Center, showed, that junk food has even some addictive properties, which is close to drugs (Choueka, 2005). A rat, which had been eating junk food for several days, becomes dependant on this food pleasure, thus there are changes in its brain and as soon as junk food is replaced by other healthy foods, the animals refused to eat at all and preferred starving. Situation with people is probably not so pitiably, however serious enough.
People, who like junk food, especially children and teenagers are often not aware of all the hazards of this type of food, they just don’t think, that junk food has so much fat in it, that such loads of saturated fats would absolutely negative influence their figure and weight. Subsequently overweight causes further problems with numerous diseases. Usually too much salt is included into junk food, there is enough salt in normal every day food already and certainly the norm is forgotten, when people start to eat junk food additionally. Sugar is also a sufficient component of junk food, most of people are aware of the possible impact of sugar over balance upon the general state of health, of teeth, heart, blood and certainly weight.
Especially a great problem in case of unhealthy food is caused for children and teenagers. I have a great example under my very nose – this is my cousin, who is a teenager and is a real fan of junk food. Her daily food allowance consists mostly of hamburgers, pizza, cola, ice, bars of chocolate and so on. Having communicated with her about this issue, I could point out several reasons of this. First of all there is always a good example of her friends – eating the same type of food. When they go out together or celebrate any holiday – junk food is the best choice for them. She is young and inexperienced and thus not able yet to cook herself, that’s why, if she is alone at home – the quickest and the easiest way for her is to call pizzeria. And finally the most important reason is advertising.
“Fast food advertising is the promotion of fast food products and ventures through a variety of media. Fast food advertising campaigns are not as highly regulated as some other products, such as those imposed on alcohol advertising, but there are often public calls for their promotion to be minimized” (Caroline, 2006).
Specialists, who work out the advertising programs for junk food realize, that the major target audience for such type of advertising consists of children and teens, who are the most frequent buyers of this food. They mostly do not consider the risks for health at their age and are not much interested in the problems and issues, related to healthy nutrition. They care for the price, for the taste and for the availability of the product. Besides there are other ruses, used by the fast food advertisers, like for example the well known Happy Meal from McDonald’s contains toys, which can not be purchased without this food. Thus obtaining of these toys is another argument for junk food for children. The clown-like symbol of McDonald’s is also a catchy step for attraction attention of children. Special advertising campaigns were worked out for young people as well – “advertising towards a different demographic – young teenage and college-age men – with trendy, often sexualized, imagery and messages that target men’s supposed desire for large, meat-filled burgers and rich, satisfying food” (Hein, 2005).
The problem grows even bigger, when children and teens bring their early eating habits further into their adult lives, when having no time for lunch and no wish to cook at home, they buy the fast food products, which they are so much used to since childhood. Often, people don’t start to think about it until they have any acute problems with their health, moreover, sometimes it’s a long time before they realize, where the root of these problems is.
The discussion of the harm, brought by junk food might be continued and continued, however the fact is, that first – this food exists and second – it belongs to business and thus will always be advertised and sold, as long as there is demand for it. At the same time, it is seems impossible and useless for the parents to move fast food to the category of forbidden fruit for their children, as this would cause only harm sooner or later.
If I had to work out the advertising strategy for any type of junk food – to be honest I would find myself in a rather difficult situation. I can not say, that I have never eaten a hamburger or chocolate in my life, certainly I had and I am going to continue to do that, but my personal rule is – everything should be balanced and controlled. This never means, that there is no place for junk food in my diet, but there is certain place for it. But looking at my cousin, I would prefer to modify the advertising of fast food exactly for children and younger teens. First of all I wouldn’t agree to underlining super size menus in my adverts, because as it was already mentioned, some fast food is not a disaster, the real problems are caused in the case of overdosing.
I would try to add some other philosophy to this type of advertising. Instead of presenting a group of children eating and eating double hamburgers, I would combine fast food advertising with sport for example. This is absolutely unexpected and might seem illogical, which is not in reality, as it is also important to make clear to children and teens, that they can eat pizza, ice or chocolate if they like, important is only to find the correct balance in their eating habits and combine having a meal at McDonald’s for example with playing football, tennis, going out for a long walk and so on. Promotion of such activities won’t have any negative impact upon advertising of fast food, but could ensure some positive contribution to development of views, attitudes and habits of younger generation. Integration of sports theme was just an example of how advertising of junk food might be optimized in a way. Certainly there are a lot of other aspects to be considered for parents and adults, if they want to take care of health of the new generations.