Term Paper: Marketing Unhealthy Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children

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Business - Ethical Issue


It is permissible for companies to market unhealthy food and non-alcoholic beverages to children."

Arguments Supporting the Statement:

In the United States, freedom of speech applies to commercial speech. Companies have a constitutional right to market legal product by targeting their advertising message to any segment of consumers they wish (Halbert & Ingulli 2000). Certain specific products are considered too dangerous for children and advertising those particular products to children is prohibited by law. Otherwise, there is no justifiable basis for prohibiting commercial speech or advertising messages designed to appeal to children for products like junk food, fast food, or breakfast cereal, all of which are perfectly legal for consumption by children.

It is the responsibility of parents to limit children from consuming unhealthy foods and beverages in excessive quantity, or instead of more nutritious alternatives. Food companies are not responsible for monitoring the diets of children. Children do not generally have control over the contents of their diet because parents shop for food and prepare meals in the home. Advertising does not cause children to purchase products; the purpose of advertising to children is simply to motivate children to ask their parents for the advertised product. It is expected, even by the companies advertising to children that parents will limit their children's consumption of unhealthful foods and that children do not have the ability to purchase their products on their own.

3. The federal government strictly regulates foods through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies that ensure the safety and fitness of all foods for human consumption (Halbert & Ingulli 2000). Unlike the case with cigarettes, which are dangerous to human health in virtually any quantity, no food or beverage that complies with government standards is too unhealthy to eat in reasonable quantities.

4. Will power is a necessity of adult life and children benefit from learning to limit their pursuit of instant gratification in childhood. As an adult, they will be able to eat all the unhealthy food that they wish. Therefore, it is beneficial for them to learn to control their cravings as early as possible so that those skills will be developed already by the time they are too old to relay on others to tell them what to do and what not to do when it comes to personal matters like food choices.

Arguments Against the Statement:

I. Freedom of speech does apply to commercial speech, but unlike political speech or artistic expression, commercial speech is subject to more permissible regulation without violating the Constitution. For the same reason, public nudity (for one example) is constitutionally protected expression that can not be unduly censored by the government.

However, nudity associated with commercial speech is not entitled to the same protection and is much more highly regulated. II. While it is true that parents do most of the family food shopping, children are often autonomous enough by the time they are in middle school (of not already in grade school), to buy their own snacks. Children also tend to be finicky eaters, especially when they have a strong preference for foods that is inspired by sophisticated advertising campaigns that generate a desire for their products. After all, advertisers do not waste millions of dollars on ad campaigns without knowing ahead of time that their efforts will result in sales (Howard 2005). They advertise to children… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Marketing Unhealthy Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children.  (2008, April 7).  Retrieved August 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/marketing-unhealthy-food-non-alcoholic/18034

MLA Format

"Marketing Unhealthy Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children."  7 April 2008.  Web.  19 August 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/marketing-unhealthy-food-non-alcoholic/18034>.

Chicago Format

"Marketing Unhealthy Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children."  Essaytown.com.  April 7, 2008.  Accessed August 19, 2019.