Posts Tagged 'Beef'

The 15 WORST health drinks in Britain

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Let’s Junk Junk-Food Advertising to Kids

No matter how often you’ve warned your kids that you’re not buying any junk food at the grocery store, they still badger you relentlessly. Many times, they win, because they have a smiling, laughing SpongeBob SquarePants backing them up.

There’s a virtual treasure trove of products emblazoned with SpongeBob and other characters enticing kids up and down every aisle, from boxes of Popsicles, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Yoplait Go-Gurt — a single serving of which contains a fair portion of the total daily allowance of sugar recommended by the American Heart Association for children.

When it comes to junk food, advertisers are outgunning well-intentioned parents, who know all too well it’s tough going against the likes of SpongeBob, Dora or even LeBron James.

According to a recent report from the Federal Trade Commission, food and beverage companies spent $1.8 billion marketing directly to children and teens in 2009. That may be a 15 percent decrease from the $2.1 billion spent in 2006, but that doesn’t mean advertisers are getting softer. They’re getting savvier. Interactive game websites for kids, Internet advertising, and product placement in movies, video games and TV shows are their new pathways. Coke cups accessorize the judges’ table on American Idol, while on the “X Factor,” folks have gone with Pepsi.

Fast-food restaurants, which spent $4.2 billion on marketing in 2009, are likewise exploiting new opportunities, including banner ads on mobile websites, smartphone applications, and text messaging ads.

Campaigns aimed at kids operate on what the industry calls “pester power.” And boy, does it work. The average toddler sees nearly three fast-food advertisements every day; kids ages 6-11 view three-and-a-half ads; and teenagers, nearly five, according to a study by Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. As a result, 40 percent of children between ages two and 11 ask to go to McDonald’s at least once a week, according to the Rudd Center research. Fifteen percent of preschoolers ask daily. In the end, 84 percent of parents say they acquiesced and had taken their kids, ages two to 11, to a fast-food restaurant at least once in the past week.

It’s no small wonder that more than a third of kids and teens today are overweight or obese and are being diagnosed with adult conditions like Type 2 diabetes. Recent research also suggests there may be a link between eating too much junk and an increased risk for asthma, severe eczema and rhinitis, a condition with allergy-like symptoms — runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. The study found children and young teens who ate fast food three or more times a week were significantly more likely to have these problems. Researchers speculate that may be because fast food is high in saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, sodium, carbohydrates and sugar, and contains preservatives.

Marketing any product directly to young children is devious, but marketing those that contribute to a dangerous and preventable health epidemic should be banned. It makes no sense to wage programs like Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” or public-service announcements touting fruit and vegetable consumption while allowing junk-food giants to trumpet their contradictory message, armed with bigger budgets, celebrity endorsements, licensed characters and far greater exposure.

Research shows that children younger than eight years old are not cognitively and psychologically capable of understanding the intent of advertising and typically accept claims as fact.

Furthermore, ads designed to promote healthy foods among kids can lose their potency when viewed in the same sitting as commercials for junk food. We also know that eating habits developed in childhood can last a lifetime, which, of course, is why advertisers are so eager to snag costumers young.

It’s disappointing that stars like Pepsi spokes-celebrities LeBron James and the boy band One Direction are willing to sell their images to push empty calories to kids, especially since they, along with popular licensed characters, are such persuasive sales tools. In a recent study, 40 children from age four to six were given three pairs of identical foods (graham crackers, gummy fruit snacks and carrots) packaged either with or without a popular cartoon character. After tasting both items in each pair, they were asked which tasted better. Overwhelmingly, the item that featured a cartoon character on the package was selected.

The American Psychological Association and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend restricting child-directed advertising. Yet junk-food peddlers have managed to persuade lawmakers to let them regulate themselves. Can’t you just hear SpongeBob laughing?

In the late 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission thoroughly studied the issue and agreed that advertising to children younger than age six was unfair and deceptive. It proposed restrictions on TV commercials for kids. But the proposal was dropped because of political opposition and some difficulty over deciding how rules should be implemented.

A number of countries have managed to impose restrictions. Sweden and Norway don’t allow advertising targeted to children younger than 12. Greece forbids toy advertising before 10 p.m. In Denmark and Belgium, child-directed advertising is significantly restricted.

The province of Quebec in Canada banned fast-food advertising to children in television and print in 1978. As a result, fast-food sales have declined by an estimated 13 percent, and the childhood obesity rate in Quebec is significantly lower than the national average.

Increasingly, though, television and print are only part of the problem. Eighty percent of kids under age five use the Internet weekly, and 60 percent of kids three and younger watch videos online. Check out the bookmarks on your child’s computer, and you may be surprised to find interactive commercials masquerading as game sites, such as Burger King’s, McDonald’s, Trix Cereal’s or Websites also are frequently promoted on product packaging, sometimes directing kids there to find quiz answers or enter contests.

So far, only baby steps have been made. Monsters Inc. and Toy Story fruit snacks notwithstanding, Walt Disney Co. last year announced it would restrict advertisements on its various media outlets of foods that don’t meet certain nutritional requirements. The new rules start in 2015, after existing contracts expire. This follows a 2006 initiative in which the house of mouse opted to phase out promotion of junk food to kids and at its theme parks.

Kudos also go to MOM’s Organic Market, the 10-store chain in the Washington-Baltimore area that announced it was dropping all products with packaging that features licensed children’s characters, including Dora the Explorer frozen soybeans and Elmo juice boxes.

That’s a start, but we need to finish the job, banning junk-food and fast-food peddlers from targeting kids who haven’t even learned to tie their shoes. Until then, I urge parents to keep computers and televisions out of children’s rooms and in a spot where you can see what’s happening. Continue to preach the importance of healthy eating habits and, above all, hang tough in the grocery store. Don’t let SpongeBob have the last laugh.


33% of children ‘eat crisps daily’

Just over half (58%) of eight to 15-year-olds eat healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables, seeds or rice cakes compared with 89% who choose “standard” snacks including crisps, biscuits, confectionery and cakes, the YouGov SixthSense study found.

And confectionery as a whole is more popular than fruit, with 63% of children eating it as a snack compared with 54% opting for the latter.

Almost seven in 10 children snack at least once a day, with 16% doing so twice a day or more.

Fruit is the post popular snack among British adults (51%), followed by crisps (43%), sweet or chocolate biscuits (40%), chocolate bars (36%) and other chocolate confectionery (27%).

The study found 46% of male crisp eaters say they eat them because they are hungry, while 36% of women say they eat them to satisfy cravings.

Only 14% of adults consider their children to be slightly overweight and just 1% very overweight, while 2% of eight to 15-year-olds are on a diet.

YouGov SixthSense research director James McCoy said: “Anyone concerned about childhood obesity in Britain will likely find this report alarming. While it’s encouraging that fruit rates highly as a snack choice for children, they are still eating far more crisps and confectionery products.

“With a third of eight to 15-year-olds eating crisps every single day it’s clear that more needs to be done to make healthier snack options more appealing to children.”

YouGov surveyed 2,100 adults between January 23-26 and 502 children aged eight to 15 between January 18-24.


Health experts: Most fast food kid-friendly meals loaded with fat, salt

WASHINGTON – American families are eating more and more of their meals at chain restaurants. And it turns out, those meals may be playing a big role in the child obesity epidemic.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest — a non-profit consumer group — says almost all the kid meals offered by the big chains have far too much salt and fat. They also have far more calories than any child needs to consume in one sitting.

Working with a research team at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, CSPI looked at nearly 3,500 kid combos at 34 chains, using nutritional data provided by the restaurants.

Ninety-seven percent of the meals did not meet the nutrition standards set by a panel of nutrition and health experts, based in large part on recommendation put forward by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“One out of every three American children is either overweight or obese, but it is as if much of the restaurant industry didn’t get the memo,” says CSPI nutrition policy director Margo Wootan.

She says many of them are still serving up fried chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, pizza and hamburgers with a side order of fries, all accompanied by sugary sodas.

This is the second such survey conducted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. In 2008, 99 percent of the kids meals flunked the test.

Ameena Batada, who is with the Department of Health and Wellness at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, calls the level of improvement “disappointing.” The two studies — taken side-by-side — show there has been some progress, she says, but much more must be done.

Noah “Bingo” Gray, 13, of New Windsor, Md., knows the problem firsthand. He was one of the kids featured in the TV show “The Biggest Loser” during its last season.

Before he joined the show, he would eat out about five times a week, mostly at fast food restaurants.

“We would order a burger, large drinks, large fries,” Gray says adding, “Now it just seems insane because it is just way too many calories.”

Now a healthy, trim teen with a winning smile, he says, “You’ve got to be able to make good choices when you go out.”

Unfortunately, says CSPI’s Wooton, tracking down healthy meals for kids is like “finding a needle in a haystack.”

But there is one chain that did well in the nutritional survey of kids meals.

Subway’s Fresh Fit for Kids combos met 100 percent of the quality standards set by the panel of experts.

Fizzy soft drink sales drop for 8th straight year

Americans’ consumption of fizzy soft drinks, on the decline since 2005, fell last year to its lowest level since 1996. If it weren’t for increasingly popular energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull, the decline would have been worse.

The declines come amid heavy attention on soda’s role in obesity and related health problems. Most prominently, the city of New York tried to cap the sizes of high-calorie drinks, though that effort was struck down by a judge earlier this month.

The figures come from Beverage Digest, an industry newsletter that publishes a similar report every March.

The trade journal also found that the pace of decline for carbonated beverages has sped up. Sales volume fell 1.2 per cent last year, compared with a 1 per cent drop in 2011 and a 0.5 per cent drop in 2010. Without energy drinks, volume would have fallen 1.7 per cent.

A three per cent soda price hike helped revenue rise 1.8 per cent to $77.1 billion.

Despite the decline, carbonated soft drinks still make up the biggest category of nonalcoholic beverages.

Total drink sales rose 1 per cent to 15.4 billion cases. Fizzy soft drink sales amounted to 9.2 billion of those cases. Consumers are increasingly drinking more bottled water, tea and energy drinks.

The fastest-growing brands by volume were Monster, up 19.1 per cent; Red Bull, up 17 per cent; Dasani, up 9.1 per cent; Rock-star, up eight per cent; Fanta, up seven per cent; and Arizona, up 6.2 per cent.

The changes in behaviour haven’t changed who the dominant drink makers are, however.

The Coca-Cola Co., which owns Dasani and Powerade, saw its share of the beverage market steady at 34 per cent, while the share of PepsiCo Inc. slid to 26.3.

KFC are after your children

KFC launches bucket for children; consumer group slams kids meals



KFC’s new Li’l Bucket Kids Meals are launching at the chicken chain nationwide on the same day that consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest said nearly all kids meals “flunk nutrition.”

KFC’s new packaging involves a smaller, colorful bucket covered with interactive games. Kids can choose from among several varieties of chicken, sides and drinks.

Each container comes with a pouch of GoGo squeeZ applesauce, which looks a little bit like those plastic “flask on the fly” Pocket Shot booze bags that sparked controversy a few years back.

The Li’l Bucket costs $3.99 plus tax. At its most healthful – a grilled drumstick, green beans, CapriSun Roarin’ Water and the no-spoon applesauce – the bucket carries 210 calories, 4 grams of fat and 565 milligrams of sodium.

But kids also have other options, which include extra crispy chicken tenders, mac n’ cheese and milk.

KFC is based in Louisville, Ky., and is owned by Taco Bell parent Yum Brands. The chicken chain has more than 17,000 outlets in 115 countries.

Just as the Li’l Bucket was being rolled out across the country, the Center for Science in the Public Interest was releasing a report blasting the 97% of kids meals it accuses of not meeting nutritional standards.

Of nearly 3,500 meal possibilities, the CSPI said the vast majority are crammed with fried chicken fingers, burgers, French fries and sugary drinks – inappropriate options for 4- to 8-year-olds. The group says kids meals should stay under 430 calories, contain at least half a serving of fruit or vegetables and exclude super-sweet drinks.

Only sandwich chain Subway, with its Fresh Fit for Kids meals offering apple slices and low-fat milk or bottled water, seems to have emerged on the CSPI’s good side.

At 19 chains, including McDonald’s, Chipotle and Hardee’s, no combination of children’s options met the CSPI’s specifications, the group said.

Another organization, the Center for Consumer Freedom, promptly responded to the CSPI report, accusing it of playing a “blame game.”

“When it comes to childhood obesity, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is missing the forest for the trees,” J. Justin Wilson, senior research analyst at the CCF, said in a statement. “Childhood obesity is a result of a myriad of factors, not just restaurant offerings. Regulating kids’ menus to only offer quinoa salads isn’t going to make any measurable weight difference in America’s youth.”

Kids meals are on the decline, according to research company the NPD Group. As of 2011, traffic into eateries from families with kids is flat after several years of declines. Health concerns are also a factor.

“In addition to the economic factor, kids have become more sophisticated, and just like adults, they want to try new things, new foods,” said NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs in a statement. “Kids have a wider variety of foods and flavors available to them today than they have in the past.”,0,2066163.story

One in six (15 per cent) motorists have also crashed or had a near miss as a result of in-car eating

Admiral research has revealed two thirds of motorists eat when behind the wheel despite most drivers thinking it’s dangerous and should be illegal. Almost one in six (15 per cent) motorists have also crashed or had a near miss as a result of in-car eating. The survey of 2,000 motorists by Admiral has shown that while two thirds of drivers have eaten when driving, for one in twelve it’s commonplace with them doing so between five and ten times a week.

Admiral’s study also revealed three quarters (77 per cent) of British motorists believe eating when driving is dangerous and more than half (55 per cent) think it should be against the law to eat behind the wheel of a car. More shockingly the study found almost one in six (15 per cent) motorists have crashed or had a near miss as a result of eating behind the wheel.

Admiral managing director, Sue Longthorn, said: “Eating while driving is not specifically illegal in the UK but motorists can find themselves charged with careless driving if police don’t think they are in control of their vehicle as a result.

“Any activity that involves taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel will distract you from the job in hand, so if you’re going to eat in the car, you should always park up.”

Most motorists (26 per cent) snack between meals in the car but for many eating in the car is about proper meals too. 12 per cent said they eat breakfast, 9 per cent eat lunch and 4 per cent even eat their evening meal in the car.

The most common thing to be eaten behind the wheel is chocolate, followed by crisps and sandwiches, but ready meals and pasta also made it into the top ten of foods most often eaten in the car.

Some drivers admitted eating more unusual meals behind the wheel, including soup, Chinese takeaway, pavlova, pot noodle, roast dinners, sushi, burritos and even lobster.

While most people (27 per cent) who dine in the car said they park up to eat, large numbers of drivers are also eating on the move whether that’s on the motorway (22 per cent), on residential streets (17 per cent) or on country roads (9 per cent).

So why are Britain’s drivers eating on the move? Two fifths (41 per cent) eat in the car just because they’re hungry, a quarter (26 per cent) eat in the car to save time in the morning and 15 per cent say they eat in the car as it’s the only chance they get.

Sue Longthorn continued: “Things like pot noodles and pavlovas are extreme examples of what drivers have eaten in their car but no matter how small or manageable your food seems to be, it is still a distraction.

“Even reaching for a chocolate bar or opening a bag of crisps can be dangerous so if you’re hungry, always park up to eat.”