Picture the scene.
You’re sitting at home, having your breakfast. There’s a knock on the front door. It’s a salesman, and he wants to talk to your kids. “No thanks,” you say, closing the door firmly. But he won’t go away. In fact, he spends the rest of the day standing outside your house, shouting at your kids. At first you think he’s crazy. Then you realise he’s just immoral. Because this creep wants your kids to buy products that were designed to make them sick.
This may sound wildly implausible – but it’s not. children in Ireland now spend, on average, three hours a day online, where junk food manufacturers routinely peddle their wares. If a creep stood outside your door shouting at your kids for three hours, you would call the police. But when that same predator is inside your house – stalking your kids online – there is nothing you can do about it.
This is a serious problem, and it’s getting worse. The link between the marketing of junk brands and childhood obesity is well-documented. One in four Irish school children is now overweight or obese. At this rate we will soon be one of the fattest nations in the developed world. We are always hearing about the personal responsibility of parents and children, and it’s true that everyone has a part to play in solving this problem. But the junk food industry also has a responsibility – at least, it should. At the moment there is only the flimsiest voluntary self regulation. This is what happens when an industry with no shame has far too much power over politicians. It’s time to take back some of that power.
Irish people are starting to realise that we need to protect our kids online. That is why the Irish Heart Foundation’s new campaign is so welcome. Slick and amusing, but also quite shocking, it exposes the sinister tactics that are used in digital marketing.
I signed the Irish Heart Foundation petition for more regulation around the marketing of junk food, and I hope that you will too, because it’s time to give these junk food creeps a message.
Leave our kids alone.
Trevor White, The Irish Times (my hubbie)
Marketing companies are targeting and grooming our children online. It is sick. And standard industry practice by junk food companies.
We need legislation to stop these marketing companies from taking advantage of our children’s vulnerable minds. We need to tell them to leave our kids alone.
What can you do today?
Sign the Irish Heart Foundation petition to regulate the marketing of junk food to children.
Please forward this message on to any parents or pals who can help us win this battle.
With love and thanks,