Pediatricians Slam Inappropriate TV Ads as Harmful to Kids

Here’s something you don’t see every day: the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a strong statement to television networks and marketing firms cautioning that the messages present in advertisements are harming America’s children. As reported by the Associated Press Sunday:

Inappropriate advertising contributes to many kids' ills, from obesity to anorexia, to drinking booze and having sex too soon, and Congress should crack down on it, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

The influential doctors' group issued a new policy statement in response to what it calls a rising tide of advertising aimed at children. The policy appears in December's Pediatrics, scheduled for release Monday.

Nice. The article’s cautionary tone continued:

Advertising examples cited in the statement include TV commercials for sugary breakfast cereals and high calorie snacks shown during children's programs and ads for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs shown during televised sports games.

The statement also is critical of alcohol ads that feature cartoonish animal characters; fast-food ads on educational TV shown in schools; magazine ads with stick-thin models and toy and other product "tie-ins" between popular movie characters and fast-food restaurants.

These pervasive ads influence kids to demand poor food choices, and to think drinking is cool, sex is a recreational activity and anorexia is fashionable, the academy says.

The pediatricians’ group has some reasonable suggestions:

In response, the academy says doctors should ask Congress and federal agencies to:

_ ban junk-food ads during shows geared toward young children;

_ limit commercial advertising to no more than 6 minutes per hour, a decrease of 50 percent;

_ restrict alcohol ads to showing only the product, not cartoon characters or attractive young women;

_ prohibit interactive advertising to children on digital TV.

Of course, one could question this group’s point that ads in any way impact behavior <typed by writer with a Camel in his mouth, a six-pack of Bud and a bag of Cheetos on his desk, as well as samples of Viagra and Cialis in his wallet>.

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