Fast Food Advertisement Regulations
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Should government further regulate fast food advertisements as done with tobacco advertisements?
On June 22 of 2010, over ten years of intensive planning from the FDA would finally result in the extensive regulation of the $89 billion tobacco industry. Although the newly created laws could not illegalize nicotine or tobacco, the FDA was given vast authority to regulate the ingredients in tobacco products as well as the way they were sold, distributed, and marketed (lawpublish.com). Now when viewing a tobacco ad in any form, any individual would obviously be capable of seeing the negatives and health risks of the product. Recently, skeptics have been raising question as to weather or not extreme regulations similar to those on tobacco should be enforced on the fast food industry, a multi-trillion dollar industry. Such regulations would be unnecessary as the fast food advertisements already abide by rules and regulations that were set to favor the people. Obesity in America is an obvious problem for many, and has been on a steep incline for years.
Huffingtonpost.com/obesity says “finding the causes of the dramatic increase in obesity among children and adolescents is an important input in designing prevention policies . . . weight gain is caused by more energy intake than energy expenditure over a long period of time.” When raising the question of whom to blame for this issue, many fingers are pointed at the fast food industry. But if the problem with weight gain is not necessarily with the food that is consumed, then it is with the activity in the lives of people. Why are video game companies and reclining chair companies not put under the same speculations as the fast food companies? In today’s childhood, junk food and video hours of video games are daily parts of life. Even when in a group of people, video gaming and lack of physical activity are extremely evident. The lack of expending the energy consumed by fast food is a major part of the rising obesity rate.
So why are such accusations made only toward to food agencies, and not other major factors of obesity. Steep accusations toward fast food have brought up many speculations regarding weather or not the fast food industry has “deceived” their customers and weather or not governmental implementations and regulations implemented to fix this would be overstepping boundaries and rights. The great thing about the first amendment is that it gives people, for the most part, the right to say whatever they want. And although advertising agencies enjoy the same right, it is somewhat limited to protect the people from deception. Lawpublish.com reveals, “The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), for example, may regulate speech that is found to be “deceptive.”” It can be said that the fast food industry does not break any advertising codes or portray any incorrect information in their advertisements, and that there is no need for them to change the way they go about marketing their product.
It is no secret that the fast food industry is extremely large and powerful, especially in America, a country where approximately one third of the entire population is obese. As is the tobacco industry, while one fifth of the entire population smokes regularly. It is obvious that both industries have expensive advertisement budgets, each trying to grab the attention of people of all ages. And it was not until 2010 that the tobacco industry was nailed with extreme regulations that drastically altered the way they do business. “The Food and Drug Administration announced rules Thursday that will severely restrict the way the tobacco industry can advertise and sell cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products . . . “ (Washington Post) Many people believe that, like the tobacco industry, advertisements for fast food restaurants should be severely regulated to tell a more truthful story. It is however quite evident that the displayed ads have already been regulated so that all information on them is 100% factual. “… The commercial speech at least must concern lawful activity and not b misleading.” (lawpublish.com)
The main problem with society today in America is that no one wants to be held responsible for his or her own actions. People want to eat at fast food restaurants and want to blame obesity on the place that they ate. In the commercials where a buyer is prompted to try a product based on taste, no health claims are made, so one cannot argue that the commercial was misleading regarding health issues. And in all commercials where the food has been portrayed as healthy, servings have to be taken into account. So yes, the recommended servings worth of a number four is healthy If an individual truly wanted to know the nutrition facts of what they are consuming, then they would go to the store website and look it up or simply ask an employee. All necessary nutritional information is provided to the customers with ease of access, but people instead decide to ignore it and complain.
Customers, in most circumstances, would rather eat whatever they want than listen to a serving recommendation. And afterward they want to point fingers at the industry itself because eating much more than the recommended servings has made them unhealthy. A McDonalds Whopper, Large Fry, and Large soda would normally be consumed by any person without thought of nutrition amounts or percentiles; However, thirty seconds of research would indicate that this person had just consumed two and a half servings of McDonalds product. How can Americans continue to consume fat and carbs at such a large rate and complain of obesity when it is their own fault? The makers of advertisements do not try to deceive or trick the consumer in any way by saying “a low calorie lunch salad” because there is no need to.
It would be a completely true statement if the correct serving size were consumed. When asking Americans about consuming the recommended serving size, I was often scoffed at or laughed at. Is this because the average American just consumes whatever is in front of them without thought? Yes. Everything that fast food advertising companies do is perfectly acceptable and legal in every single way, but because the American people choose to ignore readily available information, they become obese and blame the restaurants that they ate at. Those who consume tobacco products are automatically assuming that their health may be at risk by doing so. Yes Tobacco ads are much more forward about the health risks of their products, but when it comes down to it all, if someone wants to smoke they will. This is the same exact situation for those who consume fast food products. If they want to consume an unhealthy amount of fast food product, they will.
A healthy amount of food is clearly labeled, and those who consume more than this can automatically assume that their health might be jeopardized as a result. The obvious problem with fast food is not in the actual food at all. The dilemma lays in the hands of those who consume massive amounts of it without regard for the health risks they assume by doing so. As a matter of fact, Fast food commercials nowadays encourage “play” and athletic activity. Some commercials of Ronald McDonald show him and children consuming healthy amounts of McDonalds products, then engaging in sport such as soccer, or jumping rope. So all fast food commercials not only depict accurate information to their viewers, but also some even go the extra mile to demonstrate health lifestyles to them. So why should extensive restrictions be put on the fast food advertisements if they display only 100% factual information? They should not. An extremely large argument against the fast food industry regards the targeting of children in their advertisements.
Children between the ages of “five and ten,” (Huffingtonpost.com/obesity) is especially the group that is supposedly targeted by such companies. Stories of sad and vulnerable children who were drawn into the fast food, most of them bull shit, are told to make people side with the government aided plans to regulate such commercials. However, after thinking about the issue, a strong conclusion was made. And to be quite honest, I was never told as a child (age five to age ten) to take some money and go get whatever I wanted to eat. There is always a guardian’s influence on the food choice of a young child. And it is because of this that a child of this age cannot simply control where his family eats every day. If vulnerable children are the best argument that fast food commercials should be regulated, then it is completely obvious that those posing such an argument should do more in-depth planning if they wish to constrict the advertisement rights of companies. The fast food industry is often displayed as one big evil corporation whose intentions are only to ruin the lives of children and adults alike.
However they are just like any other successful industry. They have a likable product that people obviously want. And they have a marketing system that completely works. A marketing system that, mind you, is completely legal in its ways of advertising. To be completely honest, the problem with Americans is they are always looking for someone to blame, always looking for more. If people just took responsibility for their own actions and their results, America would be a much more euphoric country. As shown in price elasticity models and studies done on the tobacco industry, “as prices were raised . . . and advertisements were constrained, the number of dollars in revenue generated by the tobacco industry remained at an incline consistent to that of the industry before the regulations.”
Since the fast food agencies and tobacco agencies are so similar in the way they go about doing business, an unnecessary constraint of advertisements would only waste the time, money, and efforts of the FDA. For the sake of more important matters to spend tax money on, it would be in the best interest of the people of the United States of America to not further go the restrictions of advertisements in the fast food industry. The United States of America is a country that prides itself on freedoms that are not available in any other country.
But with freedom of choice comes the responsibility. The responsibility to make the correct decisions and to take the consequences of whatever choices are made. The claims made that insist on heavy regulation of the fast food industries’ marketing strategies are bogus and unwarranted. In the eyes of the law and people who believe in the first amendment, advertisements created by the fast food industry are to be unchanged. Claims made off of people’s anger and lack of understanding of the law are no reason to make a successful industry suffer. Seeing how fast food commercials do not illegally depict or mislead information, There can be no logical reason to blame them for America’s obesity or heavily regulate them in any way.
Works Cited Page
<Lawpublish.com/firstamend>. “First Amendment in Advertising.” Cuyohoga Falls Law Industry, Harvard Law University, Web. 28 November 2012.
Leyton, Lyndesy. “New FDA Rules Will Greatly Restrict Tobacco Advertising and Sales.” Washington Post. N.p., 19 Mar. 2010. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <New FDA rules will greatly restrict tobacco advertising and sales>.
<http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/Obesity.pd>. “Childhood Obesity.” The Huffington Post, Web. 12 February 2010. 28 November 2012
Hiatt, Kurtis. “Fast Food Companies Increase Ads Aimed at Kids.” U.S News. N.p., 8 Nov. 2010. Web. 28 Nov. 2012. <http://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/diet/articles/2010/11/08/health-buzz-fast-food-restaurants-increase-ads-aimed-at-ki>.