Imagine you and your children are on a big boat in the middle of the ocean. And the boat is taking on water. On one side of the boat, you're bailing as fast as you can. You're working hard, thinking smart, trying to save all of your lives and keep the ship afloat. But on the other side of the boat is a small group working just as hard, punching holes in the hull. And no matter how much progress you make, you just can't compensate for the damage that they're doing.
Frustrating, right? Well, that's sort of what America's food marketers are doing to this country in the battle against obesity.
According to media industry estimates, advertisers spend $900 million every year on television shows aimed at children under 12. And more than two-thirds of that advertising is for food products: fast-food meals with action figures and dolls; sugary cereals with cartoon spokespeople; "juice" drinks that have about as much to do with actual fruit as Swedish Fish have to do with mackerel. The average child between ages 8 and 18 spends three hours a day in front of the television, and according to the Federal Trade Commission, kids ages 2 to 11 will see 26,000 TV ads this year—22 percent of them marketing food. And their message—that junk food equals instant happiness—is one that sticks with a child for all his life.
So how do you fight back? You can teach your children how to swim, starting with just these few basic rules.
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