Tuesday, April 6, 2010

All I ever do here is complain. . .

Annoying things seem to be all that have the power to spurn me into action, here on this blog.

The annoyance this time is this story.

For the time when it's no longer available online, here's the gist:

An opinion writer defends Michelle Obama's statement that food manufacturers should "rething the products that [they]'re offering, the information that [they] provide about these products and how [they] market those products to our children".  She (the columnist) doesn't like it that Mrs. Obama "has been accused of 'federalizing fat' and labeled 'the first nanny'".  No, she doesn't like it one bit, because "it's not the federal government that's playing the role of nanny here".   That role has been filled by the evil food and beverage marketers. 

So then she goes on for several paragraphs about how most ads targeted at children "hawk the least healthy foods".  Blah blah blah, "as a sedentary activity, television-watching alone doesn't contribute to childhood obesity; rather, it's the incessant bombardment of ads associated with television-watching that "robustly" correlates with obesity".  It's those wicked commercials!  PBS good, commercial TV bad!

Here's one direct quote:  "So when a child begs for fruit-free Froot Loops, he's simply doing what he's been commanded to do, clean-your-room style, by the marketing nanny."

My answer:  So when your child begs for fruit-free Froot Loops, it's simply part of being a responsible adult that you, the lucky parent, must make the decision whether or not to buy the Froot Loops.

(Incidentally, don't you bet that Froot Loops loves being the first product that comes to mind when people think of sugary, bad-for-you foods that kids love?)

If you decide that your child doesn't really need the "fruit-free" cereal, you get the joyous job of teaching your little sweetie-pie the meaning of the word "NO".   If you find that you have trouble telling your kids "no", I feel sorry for you.  You're really in for it.  Maybe you should consider curbing their "commercial TV" time.  (Heck, if you have a TiVo, you can just fast-forward through the commercials, right?)

Of course, the columnist has already thought of this, but she's not swayed.  She still thinks it's the responsibility of someone other than a child's parents to monitor what food commercials s/he sees-- and by extention, what foods s/he craves.

"Only today is the federal government demonstrating a willingness to risk the nanny state accusations."  (Oh, that's the least of their problems.  They're being accused of much, much worse-- such as ramming through legislation against the will of the people-- dragging us down into debt so deep that it will take generations to dig our way out-- need I go on?)

"We could do without manipulative, profit-driven nannies. But we do need the FTC as a cop on the beat of wayward marketers."

Seriously though, lady!

I mean, are there unscrupulous advertisers?  Yes, there probably are, as there seem to be some unscrupulous people in every profession, if you go looking for them.   But are marketers really the root of the problem, here?  What would you have them do?  Their job is to sell their products-- and there's nothing wrong with their products (if we're just talking sweet foods).  Eaten in proper moderation, even sugary cereals are ok.  ("*gasp*  No.  She couldn't really believe that, could she?  She's finally lost her last shred of sanity. . .")  It's not like they're pushing drugs and alcohol.

At what point do parents take over responsibility for the well-being (including eating and exercise habits) of their own children?  You can't force someone to overeat just by showing them commercials-- and that is doubly true for children, who (generally speaking) do not purchase their own food.  It doesn't matter how many times little Emma sees those commercials for Froot Loops-- doesn't matter how much she decides she wants them-- doesn't matter how she cries or begs Mommy to buy them for her or to let her eat them every day (and in jumbo portions).  Until Mommy (or Daddy or Auntie or whoever) gives in to her every whim on a daily basis, none of it matters.  No-one is forcing Mommy to buy the Froot Loops, and you'll not convince me otherwise.