Monday, September 20, 2010

Are we a product of where we live? Can we break the 'mould'?

I was considering the comments another student mentioned today while we were discussing the ethics of a junk food advertising ban. He pointed out that were he came from in Port Pirie (a regional centre in SA but a country town none the less) the road to the local school was a junk food strip. McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway (not too bad) all on the one road, right next door to one another.
What does this say about what we find acceptable? I have heard a few times in the past about country townspeople getting up in arms about junk food stores coming to their town - they didn't want them.
I can see why - without the choice, people can't have it! I know this may sound paternalistic but if there is a fast food outlet on every corner you options for 'convenience' are very strong.
It used to be just a fish and chip shop on the corner - with that limited choice you would get sick of them pretty quick. I understand now what country people are desperate to keep fast food chains out of their towns.......they breed.

Where we live and our social demographic with regards to health and obesity, I think stems from the socio-economic status of that suburb - and junk food chains know this!
Walking down The Parade Norwood I think you would only find a subway store and oooodles and oooodles of specialised food outlets with spices, organics fruit and vege, boutique butchers, cafes with gourmet foods etc.
If you head to Munno Para in the Northern suburbs both the external and internal shopping area are littered with junk food! Is this fair?!?! Your options at Munno Para are as follows......Boost Juice, Donut King, Go Fish, Mamma Mia's, Subway (Internal), Tasty Asian, Wendy's, Yiros Club 2, Barnacle Bills, Caffe Primo, Cheesecake Shop Cafe, Cherry Blossom Sushi Bar, Hungry Jacks, McDonald's, Noodle Box, Pizza Hut,
Red Rooster, Subway (External), The Pretzel Zone, Time-Out Cafe, Tores Snack Bar, Vili's Mini Cafe

That is a LOT of junk food and only a few healthy(ish) options - but guess which are cheaper?
We have made it rational to eat bad based on price - and the fast food outlets know it! Why else do they set up shop in the low socio-economic suburbs? The cheapest option always wins when you are short of money
This is not fair! Why is it only the 'norm' in affluent suburbs to eat 'healthy'?
We have made it 'normal' to have these foods in our diets - now how did that happen?
Well, advertising
Pester power is one of the greatest forces (on earth?)
Advertisers directly target children to get them to pester you enough to give in - but is it ethical to advertise to children at all?
They lack the cognitive power to process and advertisement and don't understand the complex psychological tactics used in advertising to entice them. Is it fair to 'trick' someone who doesn't understand the trick at all?
I say no.
As adults we understand we are being advertised too - children find adverts entertaining and gauge social norms from what they see. They have no idea that someone in the world has an agenda that doesn't take their welfare into account.

So what of it then? consider this - if ALL children regardless of socio-economic status are growing up in a world where fast food is bombarded at them during TV (and sponsorship of their sporting programs) how do they see the world? Consider it - put yourself in the shoes of your child, what do they see? What is 'normal'? To have LCM's in your lunchbox? To have fruit roll-ups instead of fruit? To have fun times like birthdays at McDonald's? Consider what their world looks like - then consider if you want to do something about it - or be happy with it.
Consider what that will look like when they are adults - what decisions will they make based on what is 'normal'?

For more information.....Coalition on Food Advertising to Children

No comments:

Post a Comment