Mcdonalds and Advertising Children Are Term Paper

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But if you're looking at it as how many nutrients are you getting for a dollar, it's the least economical."

New findings on the biological effects of fast food suggest that obesity isn't simply down to a lack of an individual's self-control. Some scientists are starting to believe that eating too much of foods that are excessively high in fat and sugar such as those from fast food restaurants can cause changes to a person's brain and body that make it hard to resist fast food. Some scientists even believe that the foods can trigger changes that are similar to full-blown addiction.

Regardless of who is really to blame for fast food consumption, society and the legal system hold individuals accountable. In 2002, a group of American teenagers brought a lawsuit against McDonald's, blaming it for their obesity and health problems since they had lived on a daily diet of burgers and fries from the restaurant.

The lawsuit alleged that McDonald's had violated New York State's consumer fraud statues by deliberately misleading consumers into thinking their products were healthy and nutritious. The lawsuit said McDonald's had failed to adequately provide information on the heath risks of its fast food The U.S. District Court dismissed the lawsuit. The federal judge that reviewed the case said, "Nobody is forced to eat at McDonald's...If a person knows or should know that eating copious amounts of supersized McDonald's products is unhealthy and may result in weight gain, it is not the place of the law to protect them from their own excesses." This was the decision even though McDonald's markets to children.

Economic Implications

Obesity costs the United States about $118 billion annually, including direct health care costs for diseases related to obesity and indirect costs, such as loss of productivity. The World Bank estimates that about twelve percent of the overall United States budget for health care is spent on the treatment of obesity. About half of this amount can be directly attributed to direct cost of treating obesity such as the administered medical treatments. There is also an indirect cost of obesity in the business sector, which is a result of higher absenteeism among extremely overweight employees, loss of productivity, and restricted activity. The expensive of obesity is born by everyone, not just the obese. In 2003, every taxpayer paid around $170 to manage obesity-related problems such as clogged arteries, cancer and diabetes.

The total annual economic cost of diabetes in 1997 was estimated to be $98 billion, including $44 billion in direct medical and treatment costs and $54 billion for indirect costs attributed to disability and mortality. The direct costs represented almost six percent of total personal healthcare expenditures in the United States. Of the indirect costs, disability amounted to $37.1 billion and mortality amounted to almost $17 billion. More than 74,927 workers were reported to be permanently disabled because of diabetes in 1997.

Political Implications

Some experts fear that children are defenseless in the face of increasingly sophisticated advertising techniques and increased targeting, and are made to want everything they see advertised on television, products that are often detrimental for the child's health. "This 'moral anxiety attack' sets the stage for efforts to restrict, or eliminate altogether, advertising directed to children." As a solution, some call for either government regulation or self-imposed marketing and advertiser regulation.

Government regulation and self-imposed regulation pose challenges for a variety of reasons. Advertising is everywhere and there's nothing that the government or business can do to separate children from advertisements that target children and those that target adults. Attempts to regulate advertising will meet significant opposition under claims of violation of free speech as was the case with the overturn of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 because it was declared to be unconstitutional. Voluntary guidelines have not been effective in the past.

As one business gains success by crossing the line, others feel compelled to do so in today's cut throat competitive environment.

Many feel that parental regulation is by far the better option. Research reveals that children are more influenced by parents and playmates than by the mass media. Further, the majority of commercials targeted at children have a pro-social message. And, parents have the responsibility and opportunity to regulate what their children see. It's true that they can't control everything, but the evidence suggests that the effects of the media are minimized when parents talk to their children about them. For all these reasons, those against government intervention feel the allure of government and business regulation is overshadowed by parental guidance and is the answer to protecting children from unwanted advertisements.

Analysis and Conclusion

Self-imposed regulations by the advertising industry and parental guidance have not and will not protect children from advertisers. Given the billions of dollars that corporations spend on advertising to children, the advertising industry has a conflict of interest that will prevent it from doing the right thing. True, parents can influence the behavior of their children. But, unfortunately, advertising campaigns for children have cleverly woven a web that nets children and adults alike. Further, the ubiquity of advertising channels makes it impossible to restrict a child's access to ads.

Government regulation is the only option that will protect children from advertisers. The government already regulates the advertising of products such as cigarettes and alcohol that have proven to have negative health consequences. Because of the rise in obesity and diabetes, fast food should not be an exception. At a minimum, the government should place the same restrictions on fast food advertising as its does for alcohol and cigarette advertising. This may not be a panacea, but at least it would be a step in the right direction. As fast food businesses realize they are not immune to government regulation, they will be more likely to curb their unethical conduct to avoid even further restrictions.

Bibliography

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Burgers on the Brain: Can You Really Get Addicted to Fast Food?" New Scientist, Feb. 2003. Retrieved at http://banzhaf.net/docs/newsci.html

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Court Dismisses McDonald's Obesity Case."

BBC News, 22 Jan. 2003. Retrieved at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2685707.stm

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Fischer, Paul M., Schwartz, Meyer P., Richards, John W. Jr., and Goldstein, Adam O. "Brand Logo Recognition by Children Aged 3 to 6 Years: Mickey Mouse and Old Joe the Camel." Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 266, 11 Dec. 1991, pp. 3145-3148.

Goldstein, Jeffrey. "Children and Advertising - the Research." The European Commission. Retrieved at http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/comcom/newsletter/edition13/page04_en.htm

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McDonald's Advertisement. Cited in Harrod, Tim. "Two All-Beef Patties Special Sauce Lettuce Cheese Pickles Onion on a Sesame Seed LIE!" Stay Free! Magazine. Issue 24. Retrieved at http://www.stayfreemagazine.org/archives/24/mcdonalds-commercials.html

McNeal, James. Cited in "MacPherson K. Poll of Children Shows Whining Wins." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 17 Jun 2002, p. A-7.

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McNeal, James. "The Kids' Market: Myths and Tealities. Ithaca, NY: Paramount Market. Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10 Mar 1999.

Ronald McDonald." Wikipedia. Retrieved at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_McDonald#Portrayal

Pesic, Milos. "The Cost of Obesity." Retrieved at http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Cost-of-Obesity&id=357332

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Simmons, Jan. "Fast Food Nation." PBS Newshour, 4 Apr. 2001. Retrieved at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/jan-june01/fast_food.html

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Warner, Melanie. "McDonald's "Dollar Menu" Fosters Obesity Among Blacks, Hispanics." The New York Times. Retrieved at http://www.timeswatch.org/articles/2006/20060420a.aspx

Dittmann, Melissa. "Protecting Children From Advertising." Monitor on Psychology Vol. 34, No. 6. 6 Jun 2004. Retrieved at http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun04/protecting.html

Spurlock, Morgan. "The Truth About McDonald's and Children." Independent/UK, 22 May 2005. Retrieved at http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0522-20.htm

Dittmann, Melissa. "Protecting Children From Advertising." Monitor on Psychology Vol. 34, No. 6. 6 Jun 2004. Retrieved at http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun04/protecting.html

Strasburger, Victor C. "Children and TV Advertising: Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide." Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, Vol. 22,. Jun 2001, p. 185.

Dittmann, Melissa. "Protecting Children From Advertising." Monitor on Psychology Vol. 34, No. 6, 6 Jun 2004. Retrieved at http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun04/protecting.html

Fischer, Paul M., Schwartz, Meyer P., Richards, John W. Jr., and Goldstein, Adam O. "Brand Logo Recognition by Children Aged 3 to 6 Years: Mickey Mouse and Old Joe the Camel." Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol 266, 11 Dec. 1991, pp. 3145-3148.

McNeal, James. Kids as Customers. NY:Lexington Books, 1992.

Strasburger, Victor C. And Wilson, Barbara J.…[continue]

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