The Day Count Chocula Cried

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Ofcom, the UK's media regulatory agency, is bringing the hammer down on "junk food" advertisements during children's programming.

The restrictions are much harsher than the TV and advertising industry had been hoping for but fell short of a complete pre-watershed ban that health campaigners were seeking.

The surprise is that Ofcom has chosen to extend the restrictions to any programme any time of the day that has an "above-average" audience of under 16-year-olds.

It had previously been focusing on a range of options for restrictions on advertising to under 9-year-olds and during particular time periods.

Plans for some networks to use their characters to promote fruits and vegetables have been pushed aside; the full ban will be phased in before the end of the decade.

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  1. Hasn’t it occurred to any of these people that children have reasoning facilities? And that only by exposure to hype of one sort or another are they going to use those facilities?

    Of course, if they used their reasoning facilities, they might grow up questioning their would-be protectors’ reasoning and motives…

  2. “Turner, like other media companies, had been looking at ways in which we could harness our characters, such as Scooby-Doo and Dexter, for the power of good, aligning them with the promotion of healthier food products, such as water, fruit and vegetables,” the Turner senior vice-president, Dee Forbes, said.

    Water?

  3. Problem solved. Now youngsters in the UK won’t even know that junk food exists, and thus won’t hector their parents for it.

    (On a related note: Is meat and cheese by itself junk food, or does it have to go through some sort of rabbi-like processing by an evil fast food corporation to become so?)

  4. I guess it’d kill the little butterballs to go outside?

    I ate Super Sugar Crisp every day and I don’t think there was a single fat kid in my whole neighborhood.

  5. I ate Super Sugar Crisp every day and I don’t think there was a single fat kid in my whole neighborhood.

    Maybe they changed one of the primary ingredients at some point between the time you were a little playful boy and today, November the 17, 2006.

    It is possible.

  6. “Golden Crisp has undergone drastic changes in marketing over the years, including changing the name from Sugar Crisp to Super Sugar Crisp to Super Golden Crisp to the current name.”

    Hmmmmm…. they must have added some more gold to the mix at some point. That much is clear. Maybe it is all the gold making those kids heavy. Gold is heavy.

  7. And yet somehow Super High-Fructose Corn Syrup Crisp didn’t make it past the marketing dept.

  8. “Maybe they changed one of the primary ingredients at some point between the time you were a little playful boy and today, November the 17, 2006.

    It is possible.”

    Actually, it’s virtually certain, given that food companies are perpetually “tweaking” their products.

    However, I never could find those “Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs” that Calvin heartily endorsed. *sigh*

  9. This is an ancient family secret and I’ll probably be disinherited for revealing it. Eat a balanced diet, don’t eat too much, do moderate exercise. BTW, A balanced diet has room for fat and sugar, especially on Thanksgiving.

  10. I watched lots of cartoons with ads for sugary cereals. But all my mother ever bought was Corn Flakes (not the frosted kind), Cheerios (not the honey nut kind), Wheaties, Chex (various), Shredded Wheat (not the sugar-coated stuff), and Rice Krispies (and not the kind with marshmellows).

    The result? After 18 years of non-sugary cereals, I find sugary cereals to be kind of gross and I can’t eat them.

    There must be a lesson here…

  11. This ban is only the logical result of socialized healthcare: If the government’s gonna pay for your healthcare it makes sense to have it control what you see, eat and do.

    I’m not defending socialized medicine, only pointing out that this is only a predictable symptom of that problem.

  12. I’m not defending socialized medicine, only pointing out that this is only a predictable symptom of that problem.

    And you could also point out that childhood obesity is a predictable symtom of unrestrained marketing of junk food to kids.

  13. 3/4 of children in the UK are obese, so what possible harm could continued predatory junk food advertising cause, right? Hell, they might as well let advertisers run liquor and cigarette commercials during children’s programming too.

  14. Huh, kids have their own walking around money and can travel to grocery stores on their own now?

    Things have changed a lot since I was a kid. Back then my parents had to drive me there and *they* had to pay for my Apple Jacks.

    Kids today…they grow up so fast.

  15. so what possible harm could continued predatory junk food advertising cause, right? Hell, they might as well let advertisers run liquor and cigarette commercials during children’s programming too.
    When was the last time your average six year old hopped in the car, drove himself down to the liquor store, whipped out a $20 bill for a bottle of Thunderbird and a pack of smokes? This is no different than buying groceries. The nutritional decisions are in the hands of the parents, not the TV.

  16. “And you could also point out that childhood obesity is a predictable symtom of unrestrained marketing of junk food to kids.”

    You’d be laughed at, but you could go ahead and point it out anyway.

  17. I grew up eating Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries, Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles, Honeycomb and my all time favorite, Cookie Crisp cereals. (I still eat them to this day.) And I was always underweight until my mid to late 20’s. (Now I’m just slightly over what would be considered an ideal weight.)

    Of course I also played basketball and football and rode my bike and did a lot of other physical activities as youth, so maybe that’s what saved me from being a little butterball.

    I dunno…the concept that kids badger their parents to the point that they “can’t say no” has always seemed like quite a bit of bullshit to me.

    A parent is supposed to set boundaries and rules for kids. Kids are supposed to push/test those boundaries. Parents who won’t say no are being derelict in their duties. Too many parents (at least from what I have witnessed) are more concerned with being friends with their kids rather then trying to raise/teach them properly and then are stumped as to why the kid doesn’t respect them as an authority figure. Don’t go blaming kids for being kids and doing what kids do…..blame yourself for being a piss poor guardian.

  18. I watched lots of cartoons with ads for sugary cereals. But all my mother ever bought was Corn Flakes (not the frosted kind), Cheerios (not the honey nut kind), Wheaties, Chex (various), Shredded Wheat (not the sugar-coated stuff), and Rice Krispies (and not the kind with marshmellows).

    The result? After 18 years of non-sugary cereals, I find sugary cereals to be kind of gross and I can’t eat them.

    There must be a lesson here…

    Our mothers must have been part of a secret league, because those were my cereal choices too. The sweetest thing I got was Cinnamon Life, and that’s as sweet as I can tolerate now.

    Unfortunately, I think the lesson that some people would take from these examples is that because we still eat what our mothers gave us, all parents should be forced to do the same with their kids.

  19. Huh, kids have their own walking around money and can travel to grocery stores on their own now?

    Things have changed a lot since I was a kid. Back then my parents had to drive me there and *they* had to pay for my Apple Jacks.

    Good point…somebody tell all those companies that market to children that they’re wasting their money.

    You’d think they’d have figured this out already.


  20. You’d be laughed at, but you could go ahead and point it out anyway.

    Consider it pointed out.

    Wait, this is Reason, only positive developments can be attributed to the free market…sorry

  21. , so what possible harm could continued predatory junk food advertising cause

    You know….I really don’t like feeding the trolls, but here goes (I am sure I will regret this)

    Dan, what exactly qualifies as “predatory advertising” ?? Is marketing to the potential consumers of your product predatory? Is making kids aware that there are sweet cereals “predatory” inherently ?? Is the mere act of promoting something which you deem “bad” predatory?? Who exactly is being taken advantage of?? I don’t get this line of reasoning at all.

    Or do you merely feel that any product that doesn;t fit your standards of health and quality that is marketed to the consumers most likely to want / desire them as predatory?

    Why is sugary cereals (which I don’t think I would consider “junk food”) predatory while advertising for Pokemon, or PSP / Nintendo DS not predatory? Obviously a case can be made for any of these things not being necessarily good for the kids?

  22. A parent is supposed to set boundaries and rules for kids. Kids are supposed to push/test those boundaries. Parents who won’t say no are being derelict in their duties. Too many parents (at least from what I have witnessed) are more concerned with being friends with their kids rather then trying to raise/teach them properly and then are stumped as to why the kid doesn’t respect them as an authority figure. Don’t go blaming kids for being kids and doing what kids do…..blame yourself for being a piss poor guardian.

    You are right, of course. If parents were perfect, kids would have fewer problems. But wishing things were better is not an effective way of dealing with real world issues.

    And I do think it’s worth noting that our society has made parenting more difficult – for example there is much more marketing aimed at kids that parents have to “fight off.”

  23. Plans for some networks to use their characters to promote fruits and vegetables have been pushed aside; the full ban will be phased in before the end of the decade.

    About the same time Parliament is going to be asking, “Why isn’t there more kids’ programming on the telly?”

  24. Dan

    Thanks for helping us to understand that using the power of the state is always the best solution to the negative effects of the market.

  25. You know….I really don’t like feeding the trolls, but here goes (I am sure I will regret this)

    Dan, what exactly qualifies as “predatory advertising” ?? Is marketing to the potential consumers of your product predatory? Is making kids aware that there are sweet cereals “predatory” inherently ?? Is the mere act of promoting something which you deem “bad” predatory?? Who exactly is being taken advantage of?? I don’t get this line of reasoning at all.

    Chicago Tom, that comment was not made by me.

    It seems that the “Reason” way to deal with “trolls” is to misrepresent their views.

    Oh well, no church likes a heretic.

  26. Thanks for helping us to understand that using the power of the state is always the best solution to the negative effects of the market.

    I don’t know it always is, but certainly sometimes it probably is (otherwise why have states at all since a true “free market” = anarchy?)

  27. Am I a tool who actual believes the dreck that I’m spewing, or merely an attention whore who has nothing better to do than to troll blog comment sections looking for some sort of validaton for my insignificance?

    Please vote!

    A. Tool
    B. Troll
    C. A Toolish Troll

  28. This thread is a perfect example of why Eric the 0.5b designed an excellent filter.

  29. What? No all of the above?

    Put me down for D. Pathologically misguided.

  30. otherwise why have states at all since a true “free market” = anarchy

    Couple, three reasons:

    1. To get poor people to pay for a greater share of the military so that natural resources can be better procured from dangerous parts of the world for the benefit iof the investing class. Sometimes these poor people are made to donate time as well as money in these ventures.

    and

    2. So that poor people pay for police to keep them from stealing from the investing class.

    and

    3. So that the right of corporations to limited liability, free speech and untaxed profits is achieved and maintained.

  31. And I do think it’s worth noting that our society has made parenting more difficult – for example there is much more marketing aimed at kids that parents have to “fight off.”

    Dan–Please actually have children before posting on what it is to be a parent.

    It’s *easy* to say NO. I can say it all day long when my youngins are begging for something, even when they have the [insert item here] in their hands. Hell, sometimes I laugh maniacally when I say it.

  32. Dan–Please actually have children before posting on what it is to be a parent.
    It’s *easy* to say NO. I can say it all day long when my youngins are begging for something, even when they have the [insert item here] in their hands. Hell, sometimes I laugh maniacally when I say it.

    Well, if it’s easy to say “no”, then obviously parents not saying “no” is not the problem.

  33. Where does one get Eric the 0.5b’s filter?

    Also, I just got his name.

  34. Dan T.
    Let’s go to the consumer. After 5 minutes of televised “predatory marketing” to my 10 year old daughter, I asked her what she thought about all the things she now needed to buy. And she said to me, “Dad its just advertising I don’t really need any of it.” She shot me right down. In fact, in talking to her I have noticed that the more marketing she sees the more sophisticated and resilient she gets.

  35. thoreau,

    Yes, but you completely missed the impersonation craze. I’m still not sure which trolls are real and which ones are mole trolls.

    I ate fried everything, fast food, Chocolate-Coated Sugar Bombs, etc., and I was never fat. I even played video games! And I do believe that there was some HFCS in some of my diet, Dave, so I’m not sure that HFCS can be solely blamed for any increase in fatness in recent years.

    Frankly, I think the kids just have too many non-active distractions–video games, the Internet, naked women on the Internet, 500 channels, electric race cars, etc., etc.

  36. Maybe they should watch this.

    http://disney.go.com/disneychannel/playhouse/captaincarlos/index.html

    Captain Carlos -> defender of good nutrition.

  37. … and junk foods worst enemy.

  38. Dan T.
    Let’s go to the consumer. After 5 minutes of televised “predatory marketing” to my 10 year old daughter, I asked her what she thought about all the things she now needed to buy. And she said to me, “Dad its just advertising I don’t really need any of it.” She shot me right down. In fact, in talking to her I have noticed that the more marketing she sees the more sophisticated and resilient she gets.

    It sounds like she’s sophisticated enough to tell you what you want to hear. But then again, most people deny being affected by advertising – yet companies continue to do it.

    A better test would be to look at the stuff she already does own (either bought with her allowance or requested from you). Do you see mostly brands that aren’t advertised?

  39. And I do believe that there was some HFCS in some of my diet, Dave, so I’m not sure that HFCS can be solely blamed for any increase in fatness in recent years.

    And let me be clear that even if HFCS does cause enhanced fatness or hunger (which it might or might not, relative to the sugar it replaced), fatness always should remain the responsibility of adults (for themselves) and guardians (for their minor and other charges). I say that because there is plenty of notice with fatness that you need to change behavior and/or diet. When nature gives you that notice, you have to take heed or face the consequences, I believe and believe strongly.

    However, if the switch to HFCS has been causing childhood diabetes to spike (which I suspect it has), then that is more of a problematic to me because you don’t get notice on that, so a relevant ingredient change is something that should be publicized, one way or the other. I knew at least by 5th grade that diabetes was related to sugar, but I also knew in a sense that so long as my consumption was somewhat normalized with respect to fambly and friends, that my risks were probably acceptable. However, if they change the sweetner sudenly and it is 2 or 3 or 10 times as diabetes-causing — that I consider a dirty trick (if they knew) or at least a kind of outcome to be avoided (with legal liability and/or gov’t regulation if those are the best ways).

    I am Mr. Nuance on this stuff I guess.

  40. I played that game, and I think Carlos ate like 15,000 calories on the way to the goal, and that can’t be good.

  41. There’s a new fad diet out, it’s called eat right and exercise.

  42. Well, if it’s easy to say “no”, then obviously parents not saying “no” is not the problem.

    And the problem is….[drumroll]

  43. I can’t hear you Dave.

  44. However, if the switch to HFCS has been causing childhood diabetes to spike (which I suspect it has), then that is more of a problematic to me because you don’t get notice on that, so a relevant ingredient change is something that should be publicized, one way or the other.

    Ingesting sugar or HFCS does not cause diabetes.

  45. Yes Dan T. she has lot’s of materialistic possesions. Some advertised some considered cool amongst her friends, some needed and used and some items that are completely frivolous.
    That’s the beauty of a free market exchange.
    BTW she eats lot’s of candy. But generally sticks to pasta, fruit and chicken but loves a good steak. And after nine hours of gymnastics a week, Surprise, she’s not fat.

  46. I said I want to be top again tonight, Timothy. take it or leave it.

  47. FinFangFoom-

    Check your email.

  48. Gentlebiengs, I request you stand back in awe at the perceptive power of Dan & Sam.

    Not only have they perceived the deep and pervasive malice of the BIG CORPORATIONS and proved themselves immune to the sinister persuasions of those BIG CORPORATIONS, but they have discovered that we naive souls are completely duped and need to be rescued from the CORPORATE CLUTCHES.

    (Damn. My sarcasm meter just broke.)

  49. I said that if you’re fat blame yourself. I thought that is what I was supposed to say.

  50. Arsen’s nicely crafted post illustrates another classic libertarian paradox – they love corporations and hate government, but can’t comprehend that they are two heads of the same beast.

  51. If parents were perfect, kids would have fewer problems.

    you don’t have to be perfect to notice that your kid is turning into a butterball and take steps before the button pops out. my kid gets to pick his food- but the choices are limited to what I (the one with the money) allow.

  52. At least I know which head has fewer teeth.

  53. FinFangFoom-

    How does this thread look now? Pretty sweet, huh?

  54. Wow, that’s nice. Thanks, thoreau.

  55. No, I blush.

  56. The restrictions are much harsher than the TV and advertising industry had been hoping for but fell short of a complete pre-watershed ban that health campaigners were seeking.

    Sweet. So the ball’s back in our court now. Let’s see if the Americans can out Europe the Europeans. Because we’ve been doing such a good job lately, I’d sure hate to fall behind. Bitches.

  57. Just as the loudest gay bashers often turn out to be as queer as a $3 bill, I suspect these food nazis are fatties or former fatties. No empirical evidence, just a gut feeling.

  58. edna | November 17, 2006, 4:37pm | #

    Good heavens, stop accepting responsibility. Don’t you know that you get extra points for being a helpless victim? And even more if you let your children control your life. There may even be money in it.

    We’re all victims now.

    Except for Dan T. & Sam Franklin, don’t you know? All hail, Dan T. & Sam Franklin.

  59. isaac, thanx for the reminder. wtf was i thinking?!?!

    now gimmee the money. i got a lawyer.

  60. “Arsen’s nicely crafted post illustrates another classic libertarian paradox – they love corporations and hate government, but can’t comprehend that they are two heads of the same beast.”

    They are in a fascist or corporatist society, this is true. Are you having trouble with the basic concept of a free market economy?
    Libertarians believe in free will, I’m guessing you don’t, Dan T.?

  61. J Sub D,

    don’t forget about those damn ex-smokers. Those fuckers have no fucking shame about fucking walking up to me and telling that it’s bad for my fucking health. As if I don’t fucking know that already. I just choose. Just like the studies that are showing that people actually read the nutrition labels on food and just don’t fucking care because they want it.

    /rant

    Nick

  62. I goddamn teach nutrition in college, and I’m obese! And had a heart attack at age 52, and lost only a little weight afterward, as usual. It’s not about knowledge, folks.

    Nor is it a lifelong attraction to sugar, for instance. Mother used to remark about my lack of a “sweet tooth” — that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the ice cream truck as most kids. What I’ve always had is a tremendous appetite for “good food”. I really, really like it! (Practically all of it.) And the more I think about the need for caloric restraint, the more I think about eating and how much I like it.

    If I smoked, I’m sure anti-smoking messages would be a reminder to me to smoke too. We focus on the part of the message we like.

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