Recently, I’ve been noticing more and more worrying advertising on TV. I wonder if you’ve been seeing this as well? Often it’s easy to ignore many undesirable things as “just advertising”, but really should we do that? Advertising can be so damaging. If advertising is promoting the wrong direction for our lives, then we should maybe stand up against it. I’d like to.
Kinder Chocolate Ads
The worrying advertising that I’ve seen most recently is for Kinder Chocolate. Here’s the commercial itself;
Notice how this is direct marketing to children. It’s fashioned in a cartoon style that will attract the eyes of children more so than adults. Some of the words used are;
- Small in size, big in yums
- Little treat = happy mum
- Tasty treat = happy tum
- Smiley tum, Smiley mum
- Invented for kids, approved by mums
The line that struck me the most was “Tasty treat = happy tum”. Wow. I can’t see any correlation between having a happy stomach and eating chocolate based, sugary confectionary. From all the things I’ve learnt about nutrition over the past few years, it’s clear that the stomach will be far from happy in this situation. I can imagine the children being happy because they have got what they wanted and have enjoyed the taste of the sugary sweets that they have gotten used to (addicted to?), but there’s no way companies should be allowed to state that such chocolate confectionary is good for our bodies.
Then they also claim that their products are approved by mothers. How can they speak for mothers?
The advertising is targeting children and telling them that Kinder chocolates are good for their body (tum) and that their mother thinks they are good too. Maybe I’m over-reacting, but I can’t see how advertising like this should be allowed.
If we loved ourselves and all of our fellow people, we wouldn’t advertise like this and that feels like the bottom line for me.
Why am I so worried about sugar?
I’ve been reading about the dangers of a diet high in sugar for a few years now. and I’ve experienced the amazing change in my own body when I decreased my sugar intake (for example, see How did I lose 75 pounds?). Recently, I noticed this interesting article in The Guardian newspaper of the UK,
This puts a lot of things in perspective. Some of the key quotes from the article are;
- Lustig has spent the past 16 years treating childhood obesity.
- “Alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine. We don’t have to ban any of them. We don’t have to ban sugar. But the food industry cannot be given carte blanche. They’re allowed to make money, but they’re not allowed to make money by making people sick.”
- [my summary] when we consume sugar the body produces insulin to deal with it, when insulin is in the bloodstream it masks the effect of leptin, but leptin is what the body uses to switch from hungry mode to not-hungry mode.
- “…losing the weight doesn’t, long-term, solve the metabolic syndrome – the addiction to sugar – of which obesity is symptomatic.”
- “Sugar causes diseases: unrelated to their calories and unrelated to the attendant weight gain. It’s an independent primary-risk factor. Now, there will be food-industry people who deny it until the day they die, because their livelihood depends on it.”
- “World sugar consumption has tripled in the past 50 years, while the population has only doubled; it makes sense of the obesity pandemic.”
- “It would have happened decades earlier; the reason it didn’t was that sugar wasn’t cheap. The thing that made it cheap was high-fructose corn syrup. They didn’t necessarily know the physiology of it, but they knew the economics of it.”
- “This is a substance of abuse. So you need two things, you need personal intervention and you need societal intervention. Rehab and laws, rehab and laws. Education would come in with rehab. But we need laws.”
- But he has seen how it worked with tobacco. It took a long time, he says, but industries can’t poison people en masse for ever.
The bottom line is that sugar is cheap for the food companies and we get addicted to it. Really addicted. And, at the same time, it helps preserve the food made by the food companies. That’s two big wins for the food companies. Pity it’s creating an obesity epidemic and causing us to die earlier and earlier.
Dr. Robert Lustig is not the only one fighting this war on sugar. Another example is Dr. Mark Hyman – see this article, Sweet poison: How sugar, not cocaine, is one of the most addictive and dangerous substances. You might also be interested in another article about Dr. Lustig from The Telegraph – The Bitter Truth About Sugar.
Worrying advertising and children
So back to my concerns about the Kinder chocolate advertising. Looking at it in a sinister way, it’s an example (and they are everywhere) of large companies trying to get young children hooked on sugar so they will be life-long customers (even though their lives will be shorter because of the addiction that’s being built up). Seems cruel and callous to me with disregard for the welfare of our fellow people.
How can a mother win when her child sees advertising on TV that says something is good for them and that mothers approve? It’s just not fair.
It’s clear to me that worrying advertising like this and the current sugar pandemic are not components of the right direction in life. It’s something else and it’s not good.
I wonder if Dr. Lustig is right when he says “we need laws”. Is that the only way?
What are your views on advertising and sugar? Is this a real problem of just over-reaction?