Is Fancy Marketing Keeping America Overweight?

I often shake my head at the contradictions between what we as Americans hold as dear and what we market.

Being overweight in America is frowned upon; obesity is scorned. And yet, we are inundated with images of foods that are not good for us. Nothing looks better than a great big Big Mac, or French Fries. Sometimes, the jungles from the commercials follow me around like a shadow, because the tunes are catchy,designed to become anchored in our subconscious. Images on television are masterful at getting consumers to salivate at even the thought of something greasy, fatty, and salty.

The fast food industry has wreaked havoc in our busy lives. It is far easier, after a long and busy day, to go to a fast food restaurant, sit on our derrieres as we order our food at drive through. We don’t even have to exercise by walking to the counter if we don’t want to. While we hear that fatty food and greasy foods are not good for us, we see images on television of happy families eating pieces of fried chicken as they smile lovingly at each other.

And portion control? Forget it! We have gotten used to enormous portions of the worst things possible. We prefer restaurants where we can boast of how much we get on our orders.  In a prosperous culture, we behave badly; we have become gluttonous, wanting more and more, or maybe even needing more and more, in order to be satisfied.

The saddest reality about all of this is that good, healthy food is so expensive, and so the people who have the least resources use what little money they have on food that is killing them. The rates of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension in African-American communities are way too high, and yet, with the paucity of good supermarkets in those neighborhoods, and the lack of money to buy healthy food, fast food is often the only food many urban residents, children and adults, have ready access to.

We have become conditioned to wanting fatty, greasy, salty food. I have found that when I say I’m hungry, what I’m saying is that my body is craving something salty or greasy.  I give in sometimes when I feel like that, but I find it interesting that my “hunger” is rarely for an apple or a handful of walnuts.

My pull is fatty greasy salty food, but some give in to desire for big-time carbohydrates, things like bread, cake, cookies. It is so easy to sit in front of a television and eat an entire package of Oreos, or way too many Hostess Twinkies. And commercial ads make sure we don’t forget how good those goodies are!

A pair of In-N-Out cheeseburgers.

Image via Wikipedia

It is a known fact that what people see, they want. When people saw Farrah Fawcett‘s haircut, they wanted it. Whenever they see something that Michelle Obama or Kate Middleton wear that they like, they want it. We want hamburgers and fries because we see them in these masterful ads. What if the ads changed, and showed, instead, more people reaching for a juicy apple or a handful of cherries, in the artful ways that advertising geniuses do in order to lure consumers to their products?

The country would be healthier; health care costs might drastically drop. We could have smaller government and less government spending, don’t you think?

This morning on the Today Show I saw a little kid who was celebrating his birthday, I think his 8th. He held a sign that said “I love French fries.” He had on ear muffs that were “French fries” over each ear.

He was cute, but he was very young…and overweight.

We have to do better.

A candid observation …

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Comments

  1. I think it’s very true that advertisements greatly contribute to America’s consumption of unhealthy, fatty foods. Though I think it’s highly unlikely, I also think you’re spot on that if advertisers made commercials about how enticing it was to eat delicious, juicy cherries, perhaps the greater community would latch on to more healthy foods. But of course it’s all about making money, and though fast food restaurants have begun to advertise their ‘healthier options’ such as their apple slices, unfortunately those apple slices aren’t bringing in their big income, and subsequently won’t be emphasized over their greasy (and delicious) hamburgers. We would need a greater public outcry and subsequent efforts to promote change, but besides the occasional news story about how obesity is effecting our nation, little effort seems to be being done about actually enacting large scale change.

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