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Food Ads Misleading the Public

I was recently reading the book The Miracle of Fasting by Paul and Patricia Bragg, as it was a text in a course I was taking called Fasting for Wellness. According to the Braggs, corporations have misled the American public about children’s nutrition through the use of ads in the media. TV, radio, magazine, and newspaper ads promote over-processed, nutrient-poor, and toxin-dense non-foods filled with refined starch, sugar, and fat.

When kids fill up on this stuff, they are satiated but malnourished. Their bodies and brains are affected. They have difficulty learning in school, because their brains are sick and slow as a result of that diet. The Braggs say the nation’s test scores are low and continuing to drop (Bragg and Bragg 171).

The Ads promote such things as processed cereals and high-fat spreads as part of a healthy breakfast. They boast that the products are “enriched” to make people believe that they contain nutrients. Fast and processed foods are promoted as actual food, when in reality they are synthetic, empty-calorie food products.

Recently, a woman who initiated a class-action lawsuit against Ferrero won a $3 million dollar settlement. She was astounded to find that Nutella isn’t a health food, as she was led to believe by the ads for it. According to The Huffington Post article “Nutella Lawsuit: Ferrero Settles Class-Action Suit Over Health Claims For $3 Million”, “Court documents say that Hohenberg decided to take legal action when she realized the Nutella she’d been feeding her four-year-old daughter was “the next best thing to a candy bar.” She’d been convinced the hazelnut-chocolate spread was healthy by ads and product labels that seemed to suggest as much.”

While the above certainly backs up what the Braggs are saying, and while I believe corporations should be made accountable for what they put into their products, I also think that parents should take responsibility for what they put into their children’s bodies. To blame it all on marketing when most people are aware that marketing is used to sell and not inform deflects the responsibility from the parents who are dropping these foods into the shopping cart.

The Braggs do say that though the schools are typically blamed for turning out uneducated students, “the blame lies on parents for their children’s unhealthy choices of food and lifestyle” (Bragg and Bragg 170). But then they put the onus on the media ads by saying that advertising in the media misleads the parents who then make bad choices.

However, it is ultimately the parents who must exercise their critical thinking and free will to make better choices for their children. While some blame can be placed on marketing ads for doing their jobs too well, the only ones responsible for what goes into a shopping cart are the people doing the shopping.

These days, with all the information that is readily available at the click of a mouse, there is no excuse for believing that a box of processed fake food could possibly be healthy no matter what the cartoon Leprechaun says.

Sources:

Bragg, Paul C., N.D., Ph.D. and Patricia Bragg, N.D., Ph.D. The Miracle of Fasting. California: Health Science, 2011.

Tepper, Rachael. “Nutella Lawsuit: Ferrero Settles Class-Action Suit Over Health Claims For $3 Million,The Huffington Post (Accessed March 2, 2013).

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