Discuss about the Ethical Thought and Action for Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Ethics govern oneself about what should be the right and wrong ways to conduct (Doan & Stallemo, 2016) and it has considerable significance in the conduct of business. In spite of the existence of ethical standard in business world, many unethical practices are conducted by the business organizations, which have harmful effect on the society or a part of it. For instance, advertising as a marketing tool can have negative and harmful effects on a major portion of society. This essay focuses on one unethical issue in food marketing, particularly the harmful impacts of advertising unhealthy foods to children. This essay points out how advertising of unhealthy food to children result in addiction of those food consumption and its harmful effects on children health. Besides, the essay shows the positive perspective of advertisement of healthy food. Finally, the essay concludes that the advertisement of unhealthy food to children should be banned as they advocate the unhealthy way of life. Hence, the essay supports the fact it is morally not right for marketers to advertise unhealthy food to children.
Advertising is a major marketing tool through which company practices different strategies to aim specific groups such as children to promote their products or services (De Mooij, 2013), particularly in encouraging the consumption of unhealthy food. Unhealthy food is any food that is not helpful for maintaining good health. Examples of such foods are fast food and junk food. Fast food referred to food that is prepared with ingredients, which may be pre-cooked or frozen or pre-heated, and served much quicker than traditional foods, in a packaged form. Such food have less nutritional value compared to other foods and dishes, yet they highly contain salt, sugar, saturated fat (Jaworowska et al., 2013). Regular intake of fast food increases the risk of major health issues and complications such as colorectal cancer, high cholesterol and depression.
Similarly, junk food is a food, which have artificial food colourings and preservatives, and which contains high calories from sugar or fat along with little protein, vitamins or minerals and low in nutrients. Junk foods are always considered as unhealthy and have been proved as harmful in all ways. Junk foods are not good for health in any case and regular eating of junk foods invites many health disorders (Moss, 2013). Regular junk food habits may causes diseases such as heart problems, heart attack, bone problems, increase in blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, mental disorders, early aging, liver and digestive system disorders, constipation, diarrhoea, osteoporosis and many other health disorders. Promotion of junk food advertisements towards the younger generation affects their health noticeably.
Correspondingly, the unhealthy food health habits of children are influenced through the constant repetition and persuasion of junk food advertisement and this may encourage children to develop lifelong attitudes on undisciplined food habit and lifestyle choices, which can lead to serious health problems and early death. This implies that advertisement of unhealthy food to children is quite unethical.
However, by keeping the profit interests in mind company advertises its product and present the product in its best light in order to encourage purchase. Certainly, advertising do not insist consumers to buy anything, yet food advertisements are presented in a way to capture attention and encourage purchase, which interprets that advertisements are highly compelling and appealing to the emotions of people, especially children. (Mehta et al., 2014). This encourage the children to buy and consume fast food or junk food on a regular basis. Moreover, children are naturally addicted towards them and this creates unhealthy eating patterns. Besides having negative effects on the children’s academics, the unhealthy food consumption also increases risk of health diseases, harming the future generations. Certainly, advertising unhealthy food to children is unethical and must be banned.
Another reason for addiction of unhealthy food is as follows. In earlier days, parents had time to prepare packed lunch for their children when going to school. However, in present days, most parents are unable of doing such things due to hectic schedules. Thus, parents just tend to give money to their children to purchase what they need. Sometimes, parents also provide snack for their children. Hence, in order to ban fast food or junk food from schools altogether, parents be banned from sending snacks as well as the schools providing them. Both school and parent should make the children aware about the ill effects of unhealthy food and make them realise that it is unethical to advertise unhealthy food to them.
Children consume fast food or junk food due to their deliciousness and they are becoming addictive to that similar to smoking or taking drugs. Although some people realise that fast food or junk food advertisements do not effect on children’s choice and do not contribute to the addiction of the same (List & Samek, 2015). Fast food advertisements must be banned as banning of advertisements of habit-forming things such as cigarettes because they are just as bad as cigarettes due to their health hazards. Advertisement of fast food or junk food should be banned because it will make people want to eat that food and if children see it, they will keep on nagging on to their parents to get those foods. In addition, it will introduce people into unhealthy eating too. These food advertisements encourage the children’ selection of unhealthy food even it is branded or unbranded (Vaida, 2013). Parents should advise and take care regarding the eating habits of their children, yet it is not only their responsibility to prevent them from eating such types of unhealthy food. In addition, there should be some sort of protection to children as preventing these advertisements during the children watching hours. Parents should discourage unhealthy eating by highlighting the ill effects of such food habits through proper example, such as risk of obesity leads to serious health consequences such as cancer and heart diseases. Fast food advertisements develop un-healthiness in people and make them less active. It is a huge responsibility and parents should not be blamed only for not taking care of their children’ food habit. There should be some action regarding banning of these food advertisements or at least preventing them during the children’ viewing hours (Witkowski, 2007).
One strategy of the companies’ fast food advertisement is to show the child audience what are the positive changes that will occur if children will have their products and this cannot be considered as ethical at all. In addition, advertisers do not take the responsibility of judging the possible effects or outcomes of their advertisements on the health and psychology of children exposed to them. Certainly, this fact supports that it is not ethical to advertise unhealthy food to children.
It would be unfair to ban advertising of unhealthy foods to children since the concept of unhealthy foods have not been clearly defined anywhere. Consequently, it is critical to establish the exact guidelines for ‘acceptable’ foods to be advertised would appear (Kelly, Miller & King, 2012). Hence, a better choice would be to ban all types of food advertisement altogether. However, such action or step would make it impossible to use television (TV) and other media to promote healthy food choices. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the parent to decide what their children should eat or watch, not the food advertisement companies. If companies legitimately purchase advertising time during a TV program as long as the company comply with the rules and regulation, it is their discretion about what they want to advertise (Ni & Van Wart, 2015). Additionally, no one have right to ban company product advertisement for it is a significant way to promote the company's product. The company who makes fast foods or junk foods is not responsible of taking care and warning children that too much of having such food will destroy their good health. It is duty of the parents to inform their children and make them aware of the harmful effect and negative impacts that fast foods or junk foods could bring (Boyland et al., 2016). Although one suggestion is that advertising company should add an information or warning in its advertisements, which must be understandable and simple to children. There is nothing wrong with advertising unhealthy foods instead what is wrong is that over-eating them. Moreover, getting rid of advertisement of unhealthy food to children cannot guarantee the end of unhealthy food habit. Instead of blaming unhealthy food habits on only TV commercials or advertisements, parent should teach their children what is healthy life style and healthy food habit, what is not, and ultimately children must make their own choices regarding this (King et al., 2013). It is quite idealistic to think that banning advertising of unhealthy food during children TV programs would somehow encourage them to eat less junk food or fast food.
Thus, it can be concluded that although advertising helps people to make their decision of purchasing a product or service, yet exposing them to children has got some serious and unavoidable consequences, notably health effects and psychological effects due to their incapability to filter and process the information they receive. However, exposure of advertisements to children is unavoidable. Yet, the negative impact of the advertisement can be minimised. For instance, besides guiding children on how to properly deal with the messages they receive from advertising, parents should nurture environment for their children that should enrich self-esteem of children and promote educational and healthy hobbies among them. Conclusively, banning of advertisements of unhealthy foods is the best solution as it provide a better future for children.
Boyland, E. J., Nolan, S., Kelly, B., Tudur-Smith, C., Jones, A., Halford, J. C., & Robinson, E. (2016). Advertising as a cue to consume: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of acute exposure to unhealthy food and nonalcoholic beverage advertising on intake in children and adults, 2. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 103(2), 519-533.
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