Story by Luis Carríon

Reeses Puffs

Many of those commercials are for food and beverage products with very little nutritional value.

Dr. Dale Kunkel, a professor in the UA Communications department has been studying Children and Media for more than 25 years. He's likened advertising for children to shooting fish in a barrel because of the inherent inability of young people to fully understand the persuasive intent of advertisers. “People of all ages are affected, but children are particularly vulnerable,” says Kunkel.

Dale Kunkel, along with two graduate students in Communications, recently completed a study that provides empirical data on how pervasive the nation's food and beverage industry has become in advertising, and the role that television ads have on forming eating habits. This increase in ads continues despite promises by the industry leaders to limit marketing of unhealthy foods. “ The industry responded, they could see where this was going politically, and they said ‘we understand we’re contributing to the problem and we’re going to solve this.’” Kunkel says that the problem is that each company is left to develop their own standards for how they will limit the advertising of unhealthy foods towards children. None of the standards of healthy foods developed by the industry match those of the Federal Government.

Dale Kunkel
PBS Don't Buy It

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