There’s been a lot of talk overseas about childhood obesity today. Tony the Tiger is under fire in Scotland. And in Australia, Members of Parliament were told that advertisements for snack foods cause obesity among children. So now Cap’n Crunch causes kids to gain weight?
Not so, according to new research from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The forthcoming study found that the incidence of obesity among children in Australia has not increased since 1995. And the Foundation for Advertising Research notes research from England suggesting that advertising affects children’s food choices only modestly.
As we’ve explained before, there is no evidence that snack-food advertising causes kids to put on pounds. Kids today aren’t exposed to more ads for food now than they were in 1977. There are many other factors at play, not the least of which are lack of physical exercise and parental involvement.
Aussie MP David Hawker’s idea to get more kids moving again makes a lot more sense. Under his plan, primary school-age children would participate in exercise sessions at school twice a week, where they would play cricket, soccer, and other sports. Hawker thinks the program would get kids interested in exercise at an early age and teach healthy habits.
Demonizing Fruit Roll-Ups and Rice Krispie Treats seems a bit silly next to Hawker’s proposal. Of course, it doesn’t make for sensationalistic headlines or self-congratulatory legislative “victories.” But it might actually bring results.