Hi! I’m the new mom here at the Mommyhood Blog. In addition to being a Mom, I am a registered dietitian and a breast cancer survivor. I have recently gone back to work after a year off for cancer treatment. It is a good feeling to be back in the office and using my brain again, but it certainly has drawbacks (like writing a blog at 10 p.m.)!! I am really a technology novice, so this kind of super high tech electronic correspondence is pushing the envelope for me!
My clinical practice is focused on childhood weight management. I enjoy working with children because of their fun and endearing qualities – getting hacked and coughed on, and the many, many “I’m bored, are we done yet?” phrases. (Just kidding). I love working with these kids in particular because it breaks my heart to see a child who is taunted, picked on and brought to tears because of too many pounds. I really hate watching a kid go through life with poor health conditions brought on by carrying around too much weight. This is especially hard for me now that I’m a mom. I get upset when my son has a cold. I can only imagine the fear of having a disease brought on by being overweight.
One of the most widely debated topics among my industry peers is the idea of marketing foods to kids – or more correctly, regulating the marketing of foods to kids (for more, click here and here). Kids are a major target audience for the sale of foods and beverages, which (SHOCK) are mostly unhealthy! I have been studying and teaching about this topic for half of a decade now, but I never thought it would impact my family. My son is only 2. What does he know about advertisements?
Obviously, more than I thought. Recently I was confronted with what I’m now referring to as the “Juicy Juice Incident of 2011”. We were eating dinner and when I asked what he wanted to drink, my son responded (out of the blue), “Juicy Juice.” What? He repeated, “Juicy Juice.” “How do you know what juicy juice is?” I asked.
I did not see this coming. I thought I was pretty media savvy when it comes to marketing foods to children. I just didn’t think that juice would be something that would be advertised to him, or me, for that matter. Hey, it’s not like I’m the juice police. But in our house, it’s a special treat. The guidelines are clear. Kids don’t need it and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends restricting juice intake. We usually stick to water or milk when we’re thirsty. So, how did my son come up with this request? Did he see an ad onTV? Did he drink this particular brand of juice at day care?
Juicy Juice is a catchy name. I’m sure to him it tastes great. But, I’m still surprised that he was able to come up with a specific brand name, especially one that he doesn’t hear every day. I guess the food marketers really do have their job down to a science. In this case, it clearly worked.
What do you think? Should foods be marketed to kids? Is this a problem in your house?