Children in America born since the turn of the century have nearly a 1 in 3 chance of getting Type 2 diabetes – an illness earned by diet and food ingredients. If those children happen to be African American or Latino/Hispanic, the number is 1 in 2. We’re not even adding a footnote to this because doctors and experts across the field know it so well they won’t even argue with you if you state it as a given.
These numbers are beyond appalling. They also reflect the fact that past efforts to address the issue and to count on the food service industry to look after itself have failed miserably.
Below you will soon see a collection of links to incredibly important and sad facts and figures. Look them over.
WHY CORPORATE COOPERATION DOESN’T WORK
Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy pretty much says it all when it comes to current efforts to rely on the fast food sector to police itself: “Despite pledges to improve their marketing practices, fast food companies seem to be stepping up their efforts to target kids,” said lead researcher Jennifer L. Harris, PhD, MBA, Rudd Center Director of Marketing Initiatives. “Today preschoolers see 21% more fast food ads on TV than they saw in 2003, and somewhat older children see 34% more.”
Or what of this: According to the World Health Organization, the problem of businesses making money off the food health of children is pervasive. As they put it here in their 2010 summary of actions and recommended activities:
The systematic reviews show that, although television remains an important medium, it is gradually being complemented by an increasingly multifaceted mix of marketing communications that focuses on branding and building relationships with consumers. This wide array of marketing techniques includes advertising, sponsorship, product placement, sales promotion, cross promotions using celebrities, brand mascots or characters popular with children, web sites, packaging, labeling and point-of-purchase displays, e-mails and text messages, philanthropic activities tied to branding opportunities, and communication through “viral marketing” and by word-of-mouth. Food marketing to children is now a global phenomenon and tends to be pluralistic and integrated, using multiple messages in multiple channels.
FIGHTING IT ALL WITH NICKELS
The Nickel-a-Meal Campaign concept is very simple. It uses the process of purchasing fast food as the access point for gaining control of nickels capable of feeding the operational elements of change. It’s core activities fundamentally halt the practice of ending a customer’s influence on the food they buy and eat when they purchase a super meal or menu items of some sort. Their ability to have a voice continues as this extra nickel goes full circle back to ensure that consumers remain stakeholders.
The Nickel-a-Meal concept will make all of the major players noted in the WHO quote start taking their responsibilities more seriously and will, for the first time, do so by breaking the secret access that these companies have because of their reach into consumer finances. And Burgers Against Obesity achieves its success because it ensures that local and regional agencies fighting to use the voice of the consumer are the ones who get to sit at the table of change.
Why will this work?
Because it uses the same tactics that Food, Inc., uses to entice us all to (“voluntarily”) buy what they have to offer. There is a reason we laugh when we hear about scientific studies that show that, given the choice, 78% of kids would prefer chocolate over broccoli. No big deal there. Until, however, Sesame Street’s character Elmo gets his picture on the packaging. At that point, then 50% say they prefer the broccoli! (See page 28 of the recent White House Report on Childhood Obesity, May 2010.).
Integrated multi-media strategies have impacts. Serious and important impact. And those impacts are directly tied to how seriously the message makers get access to the super-sized dollars that flow their way.
With the Nickel-a-Meal Campaign Against Obesity, solutions based on empowerment strategies have their own access to this critical line of success.
Wouldn’t you give a nickel? (If you haven’t done so, please respond to the poll in the right sidebar. We’d love to show the world how popular this idea could be.)
You’ll be able to check below in the near future for an ongoing posting of resources that you might want to read.