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Combat Unhealthy Food Marketing, Saving Kids From High Sugar & Low Nutrients

Food Marketing

It seems like you can’t watch TV, read a magazine, or scroll through social media without seeing a barrage of ads for sugary, unhealthy foods. It’s no surprise that these persuasive marketing campaigns are increasingly affecting the dietary choices of children.

Kids don’t always have the ability to discern between healthy and unhealthy food marketing tactics and can often be easily swayed by the promise of sweet treats and fast food snacks. And while occasional indulgences are part of a balanced diet, it’s important to teach our kids how to make healthy choices in all aspects of life—including their meals.

As parents, we must protect our kids from being influenced by unhealthy marketing tactics.

Let’s explore ways we can combat unhealthy food marketing and save our kids from choosing high-sugar, low-nutrient options.

What Are the Unhealthy Food Marketing Tactics?

Unhealthy food marketing is everywhere—and it’s not just targeting adults, but kids too. From cartoon-laden packaging to free toys and fun characters, junk food companies are getting craftier when it comes to enticing children to indulge in sugary snacks and drinks.

Unhealthy food marketing tactics have become so entrenched in our culture that they can often be hard to spot. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Television ads: Many fast-food restaurants target kids with commercials featuring cheerful cartoon mascots and exciting slogans.
  • Cultural themes: These may include holidays or special events that draw kids’ attention, making them think an unhealthy item is special or “trendy”.
  • Online campaigns: Kids love gaming, streaming videos, and surfing the internet, so companies like to create engaging online content that prominently features their products.
  • Clever packaging: Bright colors and fun shapes are used to make unhealthy snacks look attractive, even though they may contain excessive levels of sugar or fat.

These tactics can be deceiving for parents as well as children—so it’s important for us all to be aware of them and take steps to protect our families from unhealthy eating habits.

Strategies to Counter Unhealthy Food Messages

As a parent, you’ll likely come across lots of messages about food and drinks that are unhealthy for your child. The challenge is to provide positive alternatives without damaging any self-esteem or self-confidence.

Luckily, there are strategies to counter these messages. Here are some ways to ensure that your kid gets exposed only to healthy food:

  • Incorporate healthy foods in family meals: Serve meals that contain all the necessary nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Kids will be more likely to choose these healthier options if they become part of the family routine.
  • Limit screen time: Too much time spent on screens can be detrimental to kids’ health, leading them down the path of unbalanced diets due to online marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages.
  • Teach kids about ingredients: Show them where food comes from and how it’s made. This will help them develop skills they can use to make better decisions when confronted with unhealthy snacks or fast food choices in their everyday lives.
  • Promote physical activity: Regular physical activity can help keep kids active and reduce the risk of obesity and other health complications in the long run. It also keeps them away from sugary snacks or beverages that are targeted towards children through marketing campaigns.

Focus on Healthy and Balanced Eating Habits

Kids are more likely to make healthier eating choices if you help them learn about nutrition and make balanced meals at home. Set a good example by trying to have a majority of your own meals be made up of foods that are made of whole ingredients.

Introduce your kids to the concept of balance, so they can learn to recognize healthy food when they see it. Focus on getting your kids to eat a variety of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins like lean meats and dairy products with added calcium. Stay away from processed foods as much as possible as these usually have added sugars and low nutrition levels.

To reinforce healthy eating habits, show your kids examples of what a balanced plate should look like (vegetables should make up half the plate, with protein and grains taking up the other half). This will help them understand what healthy eating looks like and be able to emulate this behavior when they have their own meals outside of the home.

Encourage your kids to eat seasonal produce, which is usually cheaper and more nutritious than imported produce—it’s also better for the environment!

Establishing Healthy Eating Habits at Home

One of the most effective ways to combat unhealthy food marketing is by helping your kids develop healthy eating habits. This can be done in several ways, starting with leading by example. Kids learn through imitation, so you need to make sure that you are eating healthy too.

You can also talk to your kids about why it’s important to make healthy food choices. Let them know that nutritious foods will help them perform better in school and have more energy for activities they enjoy.

Cut down on processed foods

It’s easier than ever to access junk food these days, so you may have to proactively limit your children’s access to such types of foods. While occasional treats are okay, make sure that most of the food they’re consuming is nutrient-rich and low in sugar and sodium.

Give them freedom and control over their meals

If you give your children, some say when it comes to their meals, they’re more likely to eat it. Make sure they contribute in meal planning as well as meal prep—and let them choose one or two days a week where they will get to pick out their meals (within reason).

Make mealtime an enjoyable experience

While there’s no denying the importance of establishing healthy eating habits in the home, don’t forget that mealtime should also be enjoyable. It’s important for families (especially those with young kids) take the time to sit down together and share a meal without any distractions from devices or television. Eating together as a family helps create moments for bonding, teaching proper manners and engaging in meaningful conversations about nutrition and other topics.

Setting an Example: Being a Role Model for Kids

It’s also important to be a good role model for your kids when it comes to choosing healthy food. It’s not enough to just tell them what’s good and what isn’t. You have to walk the talk and actually make healthy choices yourself if you expect your kids to do the same. This will help your children develop positive eating habits and an overall healthier diet.

Meal Prep

Meal prepping is also a great way to set an example for your family and make sure that everyone is consuming nutritious, energy-filled snacks and meals. Prepping ahead of time reduces unhealthy decisions made when someone is either rushed or too tired, or lazy to cook something nutritious.

Snacking Responsibly

Teach your kids how to snack responsibly by storing healthy snacks at home and showing them that it’s possible to satisfy hunger without reaching out for unhealthy items like sugary products, chips or candy bars. Instead, offer plenty of healthy alternatives such as fruits, nuts, dried fruit, yogurt and vegetable sticks with hummus – all of which are nutrient-dense options that won’t be detrimental to their health in the long term.

By being a role models for our children, we can help them develop healthier habits in regard to food consumption from an early age which will have a positive impact on their overall health in both the short-term and long-term future!


It’s time to take action to protect our children from the health risks posed by unhealthy food marketing. Parents need to use their voices to let lawmakers know that children deserve better protection from harmful marketing practices. Everyone deserves access to foods that are nutritious, and it’s essential that parents empower their children to make healthier choices.

It’s a challenge, but it is possible. Talk to your children about the importance of healthy food choices and practice healthy habits yourself. It’s the best way to lead by example, and it just may help you make a difference in your family’s health – one bite at a time.

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