People talk a lot about the effect our eating habits have on our general health, what we do not discuss often enough is the effect advertising has on our eating habits.
Until the advent of television, people simply ate what was available locally, after television, the surging demand for specific products meant that the grocery store had to find those products and have them delivered to their locations. This is the supermarket stocking model that we know today.
All day long, adults and children are bombarded with Internet, television, radio, newspaper, and billboard advertising that will affect what they choose to eat, when they choose to eat, and how they choose to eat. Good eating habits are difficult to learn, difficult to source, and even harder to instill in our children.
The effects of advertising on our eating habits are such big business, that companies spend billions of dollars on advertising every year and if you are one of the lucky companies to hit upon a “trendy” product, you will become quite a bit richer at the end of the year. This is a concept many people don’t seem to understand, the companies aren’t advertising because they’re concerned with your health; they’re doing it because they’re concerned with making a profit.
Consider the Super Bowl, companies spend billions of dollars for the opportunity to advertise a 30-second spot, do you know what they stand to gain? Increased sales for an entire year, because the vast majority of America watches the Super bowl and they see the commercials. It’s a huge game of hit or miss, but if you hit, you’re a major winner.
Who cares and who suffers?
The consumers who are not educated with the knowledge of the real facts that affect their health are the real losers in the advertising game. Most of the time, it is our young audience that pays the highest price, for they are the least knowledgeable, this is a huge contributor to the obesity issues that faces our nation today.
Education can help.
The ABC’s of Eating would be a great title for an education course that addresses all of the food groups; the benefits and detriments of those groups and how to ascertain what our individual needs are from each category.
That doesn’t seem like such a difficult concept, but do you see any class being taught that addresses those issues? No, and more than likely you won’t, because our society doesn’t feel like it is an issue that should be addressed by our education system?!?
Education about eating is a need that has developed over the last 50 years, and has now reached epidemic portions. Advertisements about our eating choices are driven by the need to make a profit and the commercials our children are watching have nothing to do with their real nutritional needs, or the foods that are actually good for them to consume.
Here is where the educational process should bridge the gap, just as our education system teaches our children how to count, read, and write, they should teach them about their eating habits. We educate our children because knowledge is power and it provides them with the power they need to make good decisions, acquire jobs, create new products and processes, and to live out their lives as they see fit. Shouldn’t they also have a basic knowledge of how to utilize the food resources around them?
Teaching and educating about the basics of the food groups, how they work with your body, the metabolic process of digesting those foods, how the body uses and stores energy, and how to keep all those processes working at optimal levels is as important as understanding the algebraic theorems and how they apply to our ability to perform mathematically.
Determining just where in the education realm that such a class would fit is another matter, as members of the educational system will probably tell you that it simply isn’t a matter of concern for the school system, that it is an issue best addressed at home. But how can it be addressed at home, if the person at home has no knowledge to impart? We don’t just acquire the knowledge needed for intelligent food consumption with the birth of our children.
The basic food groups and what foods fall into each category is a topic lightly addressed during the health classes taught at our middle schools. But what about the metabolic process of digesting those foods, the interaction of the food, the nutrients, and our energy needs? Knowing how to differentiate between what foods will provide both energy, nutrients, and good taste is a learned knowledge.
Would people continue to eat foods that will kill them if we addressed the consumption of Burger King in the same way we do smoking?