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Berginski: Junk food ads don’t cause obesity

By Staff | Mar 13, 2014

Late last month, First Lady Michelle Obama and the USDA proposed a new tactic in the war on obesity: taking down ads for junk food.

Eventually, ads for something like Coke or Skittles wouldn’t be seen on vending machines, scoreboards or any fixture on which they would be visible to students. Ads for junk food online would also be subject to ad-blocking software, in case students had to use the Internet.

Obesity is one of our country’s biggest problems, there’s no doubt about that. But simply taking ads for one product out of our schools isn’t going to solve the problem. It creates a nanny state that no one should really want.

The regulations are not without irony. According to a Time article, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, heavyweights in the food and beverage industry, back these new regulations. Why? Because even though ads for things like Coke or Mountain Dew would be taken down, ads for products like Diet Coke, Dasani and Aquafina would take their place, which are distributed by the two companies. Huh?

Obama said in a statement, “Our classrooms should be places healthy places where kids aren’t bombarded with ads for junk food.” There are lots of potential stimuli in a classroom with which kids could be bombarded; are we going to ban heaters from clanking, lights from blinking or even hardcover books from falling off shelves and onto floors? No? Why not? Couldn’t they be just as distracting as an ad for soda?

Just because students aren’t seeing it advertised in schools, that doesn’t mean junk food doesn’t exist. Once they get home, odds are they will probably see at least one advertisement for it -either a television ad or subtle product placement.

If anything, this only assumes that junk food companies, and the ads for their unhealthy yet delightful wares, are to blame for someone being overweight. It ignores personal responsibility, and it ignores that some people may be genetically predisposed to being big, although we’re going to stick with the former.

I may be one to talk, considering I am overweight, but I’m also not out to blame Pepsi, whoever makes Oreos, my grandfathers or even the bacon cheeseburger industry for my waistline. I got fat because I CHOSE to eat a bunch of said products and not exercise afterward, or even cut my intake and eat better, healthier choices. It should be one’s personal responsibility to make good choices and take care of himself or herself, rather than have some nanny state do it for him or her.

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