Corporations Use TV Ads to Lie About Their Real Motives

by on February 24, 2011 · 1 comment

in Health, Media

By John Lawrence / Will Blog for Food

There’s an ad on TV that features a righteously indignant woman who doesn’t want the government telling her what food products to buy at her local super market. She claims to be fully capable of making those decisions for herself. And she particularly doesn’t want the government taxing certain foods making them more expensive. She claims to be fully in charge of her purchases and she has the right to buy whatever she wants regardless of the health consequences. This ad is sponsored by a group called “Americans Against Food Taxes,” and was run during the Super Bowl.

Just who are these “Americans Against Food Taxes” and where do they get the money to run ads during the Super Bowl? Well, it turns out that they are the purveyors of junk food and soda. If you click on “About Us” and then “Coalition Members,” you find that they are 7-Eleven, Inc., Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, the American Beverage Association, Americans for Prosperity, Burger King Corporation, Domino’s Pizza, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Jack in the Box, Dairy Queen, National Association of Theatre Owners, Mini Mart, McDonald’s, National Supermarket Association, National Beverage Association, Red Bull North America Inc., Salt Institute, Snack Food Association, and even Ron’s Towing! (I think Ron’s Towing was put in there just to make it look good.) There are literally hundreds of groups and associations listed. Not many average Americans though (other than Ron’s Towing) who are outraged by the government telling them what to do.

What do all these coalition members have in common? Not a concern for the health of the American people – that’s for sure. No, what they all have in common is the profit motive. They know that if Americans reduce their consumption of sugary soft drinks and junk food, they will lose money. It turns out that there is a lot of money in pizza and hamburgers. Notably absent from the list is Starbucks, Subway and any doctors’ or nurses’ associations. Tom Monaghan, Domino’s Pizza Founder, is a billionaire. The wife of the founder of McDonald’s, Joan Kroc, was a billionaire when she died in 2003.

There is a lot of money in junk food which is composed of the dietary groups of sugar, salt and fat. The Americans Against Food Taxes are primarily beverage makers, purveyors of tasty crap and convenience stores whose stock in trade is junk food. Anything which educates Americans about nutrition and discourages them from eating junk food would reduce their profit margins so naturally they’re against it. Obviously, the government must be at fault for trying to discourage Americans from consuming soft drinks. Recently, even diet sodas were found to contribute to heart attacks and strokes. And fast food, which is cheap, is marketed to the poorest people who then fall victim to obesity and diabetes.

Scientific American reported:

Scientists writing in the current issue of the Lancet report that study participants who visited fast food restaurants twice a week or more gained 10 more pounds and experienced double the increase in insulin resistance compared to subjects who indulged less than once a week. “While there have been many discussions about fast food’s effects on obesity, this appears to be the first scientific, comprehensive long-term study to show a strong connection between fast-food consumption, obesity, and risk for type 2 diabetes,” comments study co-author Mark Pereira of the University of Minnesota.

Michelle Obama has gone on a one woman campaign against junk food for children in order to reduce childhood obesity. Her campaign, “Let’s Move,” has drawn ire from the right wing and such groups as Americans Against Food Taxes. Glenn Beck has suggested that Michelle Obama’s initiative would lead to people being jailed for eating French fries. Limbaugh claimed that callers to his show will soon be monitored by the food police. Sean Hannity said that the First Lady is “taking the nanny state to a new level.” Funny how the right wing always sides with ignorance when enlightenment means that corporate bottom lines might be affected.

The truth is that corporations prey on the ignorance of the American population when it comes to nutrition and finance in particular. If these subjects were taught in school, Americans would be a lot healthier both in their physical bodies and their pocket books. But people aren’t taught to resist TV advertising and to choose and use products wisely. Critical thinking to resist advertising, whose goal is to get you to part with your money in order to increase corporate profits, should be taught in public schools. Health care costs would go down as a consequence. Right wing corporations have a lot of money to run TV ads denouncing any attempts by government to look out for the health and well-being of the American people. Where are the ads encouraging Americans to eat healthy and to reduce their consumption of fast food and soda? Maybe the government should run them. That would really frost the Americans Against Food Taxes. So Be It, as John Boner would say.

An article titled “Healthy-eating advocates seek ways to fight advertising promoting unhealthy food and drinks to kids” said the following:

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Do our kids really stand a chance? From the minute they wake up until the moment they go to bed, they are bombarded with messages pushing unhealthy foods and drinks.

It’s a fully integrated, cross-platform, cross-promotional media assault.

Although a number of major food manufacturers made changes in 2006, consider the many ways they get to our children:

• Commercials for sugar-laden cereal still monopolize early-morning cartoons.
• Billboards and radio ads blare specials for double-decker burgers and extra-large fries.
• School parent-teacher groups push sales of Market Day products, such as 10-inch deep-dish apple pies and breaded mozzarella sticks.
• Post cereal boxes direct kids to the Internet to play games aligned with their sugar-sweetened brands.
• The checkout lines at grocery stores, pharmacies, big-box discount stores and even Home Depot are lined with sugary treats, many at kid’s-eye level.

Science has yet to prove indisputably that food marketing is a direct cause of the climbing childhood obesity rate. But with one in every three U.S. youngsters ages 2 to 19 overweight or obese, food marketing to children is coming under increasing scrutiny.

Healthy-food advocates and many parents argue that the abundance of media messages for unhealthy foods is making it ever more difficult for impressionable young minds to resist the temptations — and for parents to say no.

At the same time, the advertising world insists it has the right to sell products, and that parents must take responsibility and oversee their children’s media consumption and food choices.

Virtually all of the more than $1.6 billion that advertisers spend annually on youth-directed marketing is for processed, manufactured foods, such as baked goods, candy, frozen desserts and breakfast cereals.

Only a very small percentage — less than 1 percent — is for healthful foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. So says a report by the Federal Trade Commission to Congress in 2008 on spending by 44 leading food and beverage companies.

TV advertising is a particularly pernicious and insidious activity which needs to be resisted. It should be the focus of teaching critical thinking in schools. Physical activity needs to be encouraged in schools instead of being cut from curricula. Americans need to be educated in how to live for their own well-being instead of being educated to be cogs in some ever-increasing-in-intensity rat race. And the government should be on the side of the average American instead of on the side of corporate lobbyists.

Read the original article at Will Blog for Food

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