It’s pretty common to spot clever product placement in our favorite TV shows and movies, but what about the products our kids are seeing and consuming every day at school? Many parents are unaware of the food and beverage marketing that goes on when our kids go off to school, but new reports suggest the practice is becoming more common.
Reuters reports about a study from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor that finds most children attend schools that have exclusive contracts to sell the foods and beverages from the companies they’ve partnered with. The practice has become so common that about 70% of elementary and middle school and 90% of high school children are exposed to it in some way.
Co-writer of an editorial published with the new study, Jennifer Harris, explains how most parents are in the dark regarding the marketing practices food and beverage companies have with schools. She says, “The companies that do the most of this kind of marketing manufacture products that children should not be consuming at all or in large quantities, like sugary drinks.” She adds, “Parents really don't understand the extent of food marketing that's going on in the schools. It's in effect happening behind parents' backs.”
So why would schools allow food companies to sell their unhealthy goods to our kids on a daily basis? Most of the time schools are receiving a percentage of the sales from the goods or they receive a promised donation of supplies from the corporation.
In a time when more schools are pushing healthier lunches and teaching kids to make healthier choices, the marketing of unhealthy goods at school is sending a mixed message to students. Harries explains, “On the one hand schools are trying to teach children about good nutrition and healthy eating; on the other hand these companies are actually in the schools promoting their products directly to children.”
What do you think of the practice of exclusive marketing of food and beverages in schools?
Do you think the practice would be okay if the products were healthier?
Very enlightening (and disconcerting) info - thanks!