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Children’s Programming On YouTube Filled With Unhealthy Food Marketing

It has been a long-standing practice for the food industry to devote a lot of its marketing dollars toward young kids. It’s a great strategy if you think about it. 

If you are a health conscious consumer, you might be able to walk through the grocery store and make smart decisions when filling up your cart. But do you have the discipline to say no to a child begging you for a box of sugary cereal named after their favorite superhero? Or a box of mac and cheese shaped like their favorite cartoon? 

This is why cereal companies created characters like ‘Tony the Tiger’ and ‘Toucan Sam.’ So they could peddle their calorie-dense, high fructose corn syrup concoctions to our kids. 

Recently, they’ve perfected this marketing strategy to the point where this study found that the images on cereal boxes are designed to look down and make eye contact with kids as they walk down the cereal aisle. 

But marketing to kids at the grocery store isn’t enough. Big Food really wants to reach kids where they spend a lot of their time, which happens to be in front of a screen. What better way to connect with kids staring at screens than with… you guessed it… other kids. 

According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, kid influencers on YouTube are increasingly marketing junk food and sugary beverages to their fellow children. For the study, researchers analyzed videos posted by the five most popular kid influencers ages 3 to 14 on YouTube in 2019. Out of the 418 videos analyzed, researchers found that 179 of those videos featured food or drinks. 

And it’s not like these YouTube stars were enjoying carrot sticks and broccoli in these videos. Around 90% of the instances featuring food or drink highlighted unhealthy branded items, such as fast food

The scariest part to all this? The videos analyzed had over one billion views. 

The key takeaway? Fast-food-peddling YouTube influencers aside, too much screen time probably isn’t ideal for young kids anyway. But be extra careful with those “unboxing videos” kids love to watch on YouTube, as these are often just direct advertisements by Big Food for the latest junk they are trying to sell. 

Our kids have gone through a lot over the past couple of years. It is on us to ensure that we do our best to set them up for success when it comes to their nutrition and health moving forward. 

What do you think?

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