Learning Junk Food in School: Advertising to Kids

Some of our children's food choices are made at home – but as they grow, many are made in childcare or at school. We need our schools and daycare centers to be working with us, not against us in teaching children to enjoy healthy amounts of good food, cultivating Nutritional Intelligence.

About half of all middle schools and high schools in the US permit advertising of candy, fast-food restaurants, and/or sodas at school! This practice is most common in Ohio (nearly 70 percent of schools) and least common in New York (24 percent).

Does advertising affect our kids’ food choices? Of course, it does! And in more ways than you might think. The Institute of Medicine has found that advertising to children affects their preferences, purchases, and consumption – changing their habits for different food and beverage categories, in addition to specific product brands.

Some estimate that each year, nationwide, for every dollar spent on promoting junk food to our children only about 1/10 of a penny is spent promoting healthy food. Schools are one place where the opposite should be true. At least.

References and Resources

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Children’s Food Environment State Indicator Report, 2011.

IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2005. Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity? Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. “Fast Food FACTS: Evaluating Fast Food Nutrition and Marketing to Youth.” November, 2010

Published on: April 28, 2011
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

THANK YOU for addressing this. It’s a huge concern; our kids are basically a captive audience for marketers, and they shouldn’t be. A school zone should be for learning facts, not a training ground for mindless consumption. Hopefully PTAs and other parent organizing can keep marketing out of schools.