Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cover Letter

Catherine Duncan

English 1200/75

Melissa Tetterton

5 May 2010

Final Portfolio

Cover Letter

            Throughout this semester I have grown immensely as a writer and critical thinker.  From the first project up until the final portfolio I have continued to learn more ways of analyzing text and integrating rhetorical strategies.  I have learned how important it is to keep your language concrete and concise in order to make your paper sounds more direct.  It is important to not only provide statistics and information for your reader but also to further explain it and point out why it is relevant and important. 

            During my revision process of project 3 I realized that much of my paper was very vague and needed more specifics in order for my language to be more convincing.  For example, instead of “this age group” I replaced it with “children aged 3-11”.  I also found that it was important to provide my audience with useful information that supported the ethos and credibility of the statistic I was providing.  Such as putting that not only did Dr. David say this, but he is the director of the children’s hospital.  I integrated more specifics on where research came from in order for the reader to find it more convincing and reliable. 

            Much of my paper was repetitive and there were paragraphs that were unnecessary.  I worked on trying to narrow in on the important information that was relevant to my argument.  I also decided to add more logos for certain points that I was trying to make in my paper.  For instance it was not convincing enough for me to say that many obese children would become obese adults.  I had to find a statistic to prove that statement. 

            Throughout this specific revision process and the entire semester I have found how important it is to back up your argument to make it more convincing.  Not only do you have to present what “they say”, but I have to respond with your analysis “what I say”.  I found it very helpful to go through many revisions of project 3.  I would revise my paper once and then come back and revise that after I was able to see it again with more critical eyes.  I found that looking at the paper on multiple different occasions made me able to see different corrections and improvements each time.  

This semester I have learned so much about writing and ways to improve my work so that I am more direct, concrete and convincing.  It is critical to include pathos, logos and ethos in your writing in order for your work to sound intelligent.  This semester I have learned not to just read something, but to analyze it by picking out the main argument, specific points and the "they say" "I say".  Throughout the three projects we developed in this course I feel as though I have grown as a writer and learned critical skills for future college courses and my professional life.  

Electronic Portfolio

Catherine Duncan

English 1200/75

Melissa Tetterton

5 May 2010

Final Portfolio

Fast-food Advertising Affects Children’s Health

            Childhood obesity is a prevalent problem in the United States today. “Since the late 1970s, obesity rates have more than doubled among children 6-11 years of age and more than tripled among those 12-19 years of age” (Nestle 1). Childhood obesity should not be taken lightly because these children are at risk for numerous chronic diseases as a direct result of the health choices they are making when they are young.  “Almost two-thirds of overweight children have at least one cardiovascular risk factor and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus is increasing in youth” (French 2).  It is important to pin point the specific causes of childhood obesity and focus on what parents and the government can do to stop those influences.

            One of the most obvious causes of childhood obesity is fast-food advertisement directed towards children.  It has been proven that fast food television advertisement strongly shapes the choices that children make concerning food and their health.  Marketers are deliberately zoning in on children aged 3-11 by putting commercials during children’s shows, enticing with toys and games and convincing children that they know better than their parents.  This deception needs to be stopped and it may take a combination of governmental regulation and a new public understanding of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, by both parents and children, to cure childhood obesity.

            “Every day, nearly one-third of U.S. children aged 4-19 eat fast-food, which likely packs on about six extra pounds per child per year and increases the risk of obesity, a study of 6,212 youngsters found” (Holguin 1).  Dr. David Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Children’s Hospital Boston responds to this statistic by saying “the numbers, though alarming, are not surprising since billions of dollars are spent each year on fast-food advertising directed at kids” (Holguin 1).  Fast-food advertising is one factor that has been clearly identified, and also one that is clearly preventable.

            Fast-food advertising has zeroed in on this specific age group for deliberate reasons.  They are so specific on reaching that audience that they run their commercials at times that the children will be viewing, entice them with mascots, cartoon characters, celebrities etcetera and even add in the bonus of a toy!  Almost every fast-food restaurant has a toy in the kid’s meal and some kind of mascot that a child would remember such as Ronald McDonald or The Cow from Chick-Fila.  Even the sight of a fast-food restaurant screams children, with almost all of them having some sort of kid friendly atmosphere such as a jungle gym.  Most importantly is that these children do not even have to leave their homes to be attacked by the fast-food marketers because they are being reached through the televisions in their living rooms.  These are not coincidences, they are deliberate acts to reach and appeal to the children of our nation.

            In a recent study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research, it was found that “a ban on fast food television advertisements during children’s programming would reduce the number of overweight children ages 3-11 by 18 percent, while also lowering the number of overweight adolescents ages 12-18 by 14 percent” ("Ban On Fast Food TV Advertising Would Reverse Childhood Obesity Trends, Study Shows" 1).  If banning these advertisements will help in this epidemic then that is the next step that needs to be taken. 

            In order for this to be done, there has to be some sort of incentive for the fast food industry to agree to eliminate their ads, because they have the freedom to advertise and make money just like any other industry. The government could reward the fast-food restaurants that don’t advertise towards children and/or they can fine those that do.  Another option is there could be an agreement between the government and the fast-food companies that they could continue advertising during children’s shows but only the healthier options they offer such as apple sticks and yogurt.  This would allow to companies to still get their names out there, without teaching America’s youth to eat unhealthy food.   

            Fast-food advertisements on television have an obvious effect on the health and lives of our children.  “Empirical studies, including recent reviews by the American Psychological Association and the Institute of Medicine, show that advertisements achieve their intended effects on children- that is, they shape product preferences and eating habits” (Mello 1).  Obviously these eating habits that are becoming a trend in the younger generation are not excellent.  This is a direct result of what they are being taught from marketers. 

            “Marketers are interested in children and adolescents as consumers because they spend billions of their own dollars annually, influence how billions more are spent through household food purchases, and are future adult consumers” (French 2).  Since children bring in so much revenue it is a business move on their part to appeal to that consumer, even if they are not aware of the business exchange that is going on.  These marketing techniques are deliberately trying to instill long-lasting habits and future consumption, which is why it not only leads to childhood obesity but will follow them into their adulthood as well.  Research done by The Center for Disease Control “indicates that there is an 80 percent chance an overweight adolescent will be an obese adult” (“Ban on Fast Food Advertising Would Reveres Childhood Obesity Trends, Study Shows” 2).

            Children spend an immense amount of time in front of the television, making it a crucial resource for marketers.  “It is estimated that US children may view between 20,000 – 40,000 commercials each year” (French 4).  Television viewing starts at such a young age in the US and the rate does not decline as children age.  This being said, it is interesting to view the amount of money that industries spend on television advertisement.  “Over 75% of US food manufacturers’ advertising budgets and 95% of US fast-food restaurant budgets are allocated to television” (French 4). 

            With children being exposed to so many commercials, it is important that we take a look at what they are advertising and teaching the youth of our nation.  “Children view an average of one food commercial every five minutes of television viewing time, and may see as many as three hours of food commercials each week” (French 4).  These statistics make it so obvious how deliberate this industry is at reaching children and how successful they have been.   In an international comparative survey of television advertising aimed at children by Consumers International, “the findings showed that Australia, US and UK had the most food advertisements, with fast food restaurants accounting for over half of all food advertisements” (French 5).  This is hard evidence of the fast-food industry deliberately zoning in on the younger generation.  These studies were done by unbiased international organizations that would have no reason to shape the results any specific way.  This is the ugly, honest truth about what the television advertisements consist of on children’s channels.   

            Marketing is defined as “an activity an organization engages in to facilitate an exchange between itself and its customers/clients” (French 2).  This is interesting because it is happening without the child even being aware of it, as they are watching Saturday morning cartoons.  Marketing unhealthy foods and products to children is wrong.  “The heavy marketing of high fat, high sugar foods to this age group can be viewed as exploitative because young children do not understand that commercials are designed to sell products and they do not yet possess the cognitive ability to comprehend or evaluate the advertising” (French 4).  These children are defenseless as they are ultimately being brainwashed with unhealthy food choices and lifestyles while innocently watching television in the living room of their own home. 

            In the past it has been argued that restrictions on advertising would be a violation of free speech and that these companies have the right to advertise to whomever, whenever they please.  “Although marketers justify appeals to children as “training” in consumer culture, as free speech, and as good for business, they are not selling just any consumer product: they are selling junk foods to children who would be better off not eating them” (Nestle 1).  It is not the fact that they are advertising, but rather whom they are targeting that is the problem.  Obviously every industry has the right to advertise in order to sell their product.  However, it is important that marketing, specifically fast-food advertisements, are not destructive to the health of those viewing.  When advertisements are targeted towards adults, they have the ability to analyze and understand the ulterior motives that the marketers have.  Children do not yet have the ability to thoroughly understand advertisements in order to make their own decisions; they have not developed that ability yet. 

            One of the tactics of fast-food advertising is to go for the “nag and pester”.  They are trying to get children to ask their parents, beg and pled until they finally give in and buy them what they want, which happens all too often.  “Marketers know that toddlers and preschool children have considerable purchase influence and can successfully negotiate purchases through what marketers term the “nag factor” or “pester power”” (French 3).  Therefore, many people automatically go and blame the parents for the obesity problem that their children have.  Parents are often singled out in articles pertaining to childhood obesity.  For example, “Parents simply have to say NO… its up to the parents, not the government, to turn off the television” (Udell 544).  However, it is already so hard being a parent in the first place, the last thing they want to do when they come home from work is to fight over broccoli.

            However, “many articles argue that a ban on food advertising would help parents to combat sophisticated advertising that encouraged children to exert pressure on them to make purchases of foods seen on television” (Udell 542).  The government needs to step in and help out the parents with the ongoing fight for a healthier generation, because the parents simply cannot do it alone.  There are many public health organizations that would be critical instruments in the steps to tackling childhood obesity, such as The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the National Institutes of Health as they have been successful in launching steps in the past addressing other US health concerns such as diabetes, asthma and tobacco use.   

            There are many steps that need to be taken to stop this specific cause to childhood obesity.  We can take note from previous experiences with tobacco advertisements.  The two have many similarities, even down to the kid-friendly cartoon characters they use to market such as Joe the Camel.  The good news is that from experience “initiatives are most likely to gain acceptance if they focus on children and adolescents.  Young people are especially vulnerable to advertising, and there is greater political tolerance for legal intervention on their behalf- this is a clear lesson from the history of tobacco control” (Mello 4). 

             We should start by learning from what has worked and what has been less than successful with regulation in the past of similar situations.  For example “Well crafted anti-tobacco advertisements have had considerable effects on youths’ tobacco use and attitudes” (Mello 5).  The ideal situation would be to restrict the fast-food commercials to no longer be able to advertise toward children.  However, the next best way to tackle this issue is to “develop counter-advertising campaigns that encourage better nutrition and alert young consumers to their potential for manipulation by food advertisements” (Mello 5).  If we put up more commercials that counteract those for fast-food, the nutrition promotion may have just as big of an effect on the children watching.  “The most common proposals are to restrict the quantity and content of advertisements during children’s television programs and to require that broadcasters provide equal time for messages that promote good nutrition and physical activity” (Mello 3).  This step is the most conceivable at this time because the fast-food industry is so resistant to limiting their advertisement and one thing we can do without their cooperation is counter-advertising.    

            Ultimately the United States needs to learn from the other countries around the world with better health and follow suit with what they have been doing for years.  “Maybe efforts will push U.S. policies in the direction of those of at least 50 other countries that regulate television advertising aimed at children” (Nestle 2).  It is important for the US government to take note on what has worked for other countries and learn how they tackled similar problems.  “Many foreign governments prohibit or restrict advertising during television programs that target young children, and the IOM recently recommended restrictions on television advertising if the food and beverage industries do not voluntarily shift their advertising emphasis away from products that are not nutritious” (Mello 3). The government is going to eventually have to cut off any advertising directed at children because they are not old enough to understand the meaning and manipulation of marketing.

            The fast-food industry has responded to these suggestions by saying that there should not be governmental regulation and that childhood obesity needs to be dealt with on an individual basis in the household between the parents and children.  However there are more people in favor of the government restriction than those opposed.  “Overall, the US public appears increasingly concerned about childhood obesity and wants action by governmental and other public health organizations to combat it” (Evans 173).  So with support from the public and an obvious need for regulation it is finally time for the government to step in.  The government needs to follow the patterns of what has worked for others in the past by taking a stand against fast-food advertisement in an effort to save the future generation. 

            The more aware our country is of the problem we are facing, the more support there will be for stricter regulations.  Currently there has been a push for more health promotion directed at children.   However, in response to the increase it has been said that, “at the moment, companies efforts- and those of government agencies- to promote more healthful foods remain far short of their full potential” (Nestle 2).  So as a nation we must step it up and take charge to reverse this trend of childhood obesity.  There is not time to waste. 

Works Cited

"Ban On Fast Food TV Advertising Would Reverse Childhood Obesity Trends, Study Shows." ScienceDaily. 29 Nov. 2008. Web. 14 Apr. 2010. .

Evans, Douglas W., Jeanette M. Renaud, Eric Finkelstein, Douglas B. Kamerow, and Derek S. Brown. "Changing Perceptions of the Childhood Obesity Epidemic." American Journal of Health Behavior 30.2 (2006): 167-76. Pubmed. Web. 14 Apr. 2010. .

French, Simone, and Mary Story. "Food Advertising and Marketing Directed at Children and Adolescents in the US." The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 1.3 (2004): 1-23. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 Apr. 2010. .

Holguin, Jaime. "Fast Food Linked To Child Obesity - CBS News." Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News - CBS News. 5 Jan. 2003. Web. 14 Apr. 2010. .

Mello, Michelle M., David M. Studdert, and Troyen A. Brennan. "Obesity - The New Frontier of Public Health Law." The New England Journal of Medicine 24th ser. 354.2601-2610 (2006): 1-7. The New England Journal of Medicine. 15 June 2006. Web. 10 Apr. 2010. .

Nestle, Marion. "Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity - A Matter of Policy." The New England Journal of Medicine 24th ser. 354.2527-2529 (2006): 1-3. The New England Journal of Medicine. 16 June 2006. Web. 10 Apr. 2010. .

Udell, Tuesday, and Kaye Mehta. "When Two Sides Go to War: Newspaper Reporting of 'television Food Advertising Restrictions' as a Solution to Childhood Obesity." Health, Risk & Society 10.6 (2008): 535-4548. PubMed. Web. 14 Apr. 2010. .


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Michelle Obama’s plan to fight teenage obesity with “Let’s Move”

Let's Move

Michelle Obama recently announced her plan to fight the growing epidemic of teenage obesity.  Her plan is to reshape how teens eat, move and live by working with school cafeterias, eliminating “food deserts” and encouraging active lifestyle.

            The problem with teenage obesity has become such an obvious problem now that one in every three children is obese.  It is so apparent that the government, and more specifically the president’s wife is getting involved.  I think that the fact that the first lady is taking a stand to reduce and prevent teenage obesity says a lot in itself.  Not only is teenage obesity an issue that is being dealt with in the community or school system, but is now being brought to the nation’s attention. 

            It could be a huge turning point now that someone with such power and resources is getting involved.  Michelle Obama with a sturdy effective plan could definitely change how our children are brought up and taught healthy lifestyles to prevent growth in the problem. 

            It is so crucial that Michelle Obama has school system’s cafeterias as one of her main improvements in her plan.  If children and teens are supplied with more healthy alternatives and unhealthy choices are taken away then there will be an obvious correlation to lowering levels of obesity.  Teens won’t have any other choice but to eat what is healthy for them. 

            However, is having someone change the menu in a cafeteria, or encourage kids to be active really going to change anything? Can someone really force an individual to eat right and exercise or can they just encourage.  And will encouragement make a difference or will young individuals still eat and do whatever they like just as they already are?  This may be more of an individual problem that really cannot be changed by external or governmental forces.  Hopefully Michelle Obama will be able to shape a nation in which will teach and guide future generations to eat, move and live healthier lives.  

Monday, March 15, 2010

Surroundings Contributing to teen obesity?

Surroundings Contribute to teen obesity

This article in USA today addresses the possible environmental factors that are influencing teen obesity such as sedentary activities, ‘food deserts’, unhealthy school food choices and television commercials. 

            However, the article never addresses the teenager’s individual responsibility of taking care of his or her own health.  Teenage obesity is largely influenced by the environment that surrounds them including their community, home and family situations.  There are so many factors that have to be considered when trying to solve the problem with obesity.  Not only do you have to improve the environment that surrounds the teenagers, but health education and promotion needs to be dealt with on the individual level. Teenagers have the choice when they see Hardees commercials as of whether to eat a burger or maybe try a healthier alternative like fruits and vegetables.  Even if you provide teens with the resources for a healthy lifestyle, if they are set on eating and living a certain lifestyle then they will still search out their old ways.  You cannot completely blame the environment for individual’s actions. It is still up to the teens to use their resources and change their old ways so they can turn their life around.  

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Half Ton Teen

Half Ton Teen
Half Ton Teen is a new show being aired on TLC.  The camera goes into the day and life of obese teenagers to show what may being causing them to be the weight that they are. 

            This is yet another television show focused on teenage obesity.  Which is interesting because television shows about obesity in turn are encouraging a sedentary lifestyle, further influencing the bad life-style choices of teens at home.  As teenagers are sitting at home watching others lives and obesity problem they too are developing some of the exact same habits. 

            This particular episode was about a certain young man and his mother.  It is a constant pattern that obese parents end up passing on their lifestyle choice onto their children and they therefore become obese as well.  Parenting has such a strong correlation to how children and teens treat food, physical activity, and weight.  Many teens and children are obese from the connection of their parents giving them anything and everything that they want without standing up to them and encouraging healthier alternatives. 

            Our teenage obesity problem is going to have to be tackled from many different angles but especially from the aspect of parenting and starting in the home.  Healthy lifestyle choices such as eating habits and regular exercise need to be instilled in children and teens just like honesty, responsibility and integrity.  

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Racheal Ray's Show- Inspiring story of teens who lost 3,000 lbs

Rachael Ray Show

Rachael Ray hosted a show where she brought in guest from the Wellspring Academy in Reedley, CA.  This is a live-away weight loss school for kids.  She had a select few teenagers talk about their experience and the overall problem with teenage obesity in our country. 

            With teenage obesity skyrocketing and more and more health and weight related problems arising, it is coming to the attention of the general public.  Now many talk-shows are hosting obese teens, those who have overcome obesity, or even health professionals to talk about the issue. 

            It is interesting that the Rachael Ray show invited a group of teens to talk about their massive weight-loss when it is suppose to be a cooking show.  With the time and channel that the show airs on it is not likely that many obese teens were actually watching.  The general audiences for the Rachael Ray Show is stay at home moms looking for healthy quick recipes.  Most of the people watching are interested in eating a healthy meal instead of going out and grabbing a cheeseburger at the closest fast-food restaurant. 

            There is a method to the why these talk shows are incorporating the issue of teenage obesity.  In order to prevent and start working on the problem you have to start in the home, with the parents.  If parents become aware of the problem, what is potentially causing it and how they may influence their child’s weight then they may be able to help.  Parents can play a huge factor into the teenage obesity crisis.  With having guest speakers on mid-day talk shows such as Rachael Ray, moms can become more aware of the issue and how they can help while also learning new healthy alternative recipes.  Killing two birds with one stone.  

Saturday, February 27, 2010

MTV True Life Fat Camp

MTV True Life "Return to Fat Camp"
MTV presents "Return to Fat Camp", exploring the life of 5 overweight teenagers as they are sent to a weight-loss camp where they interact with others that are also battling weight issues.
Teenage Obesity has become such a growing problem in our society. Many teenagers that are overweight find it very hard to "fit in" and feel as though their weight is out of their control. These teenagers have been sent to "fat camp" where they can finally deal with the real issues of their weight and work on a way to improve their lifestyles. This presents them with a safe environment where they will feel comfortable and may finally be able to "fit in" without being judged on how they look constantly. I find it particularly interesting that MTV is hosting this show, considering much of their viewing audience is teenagers, some much like those in the show. Not only is this "fat camp" helping those that are attending, but it also helps those sitting on their couch at home. Obese teenagers watching the show will feel as though they are not alone and can relate to the individuals they are watching. They may even be inspired and it may effect their lifestyles as they watch and learn about the lives of those on television. It is so important that MTV is broadcasting a show about obese teenagers because as it is a growing problem it needs to be brought to the forefront where others can learn more about the issue and be more comfortable with confronting what needs to be done. MTV has begun to tackle this problem in our society and has brought it to the attention of not only the general public but other teenagers in particular.