Describe possible future opportunities as a result of this meeting and their importance to nursing.
Policymaker Electronic Presentation
Child-targeted advertising has gained prominence ever since marketers recognized children as profitable consumer niche. Young children are increasingly surrounded by food advertising messages on television and other media and interactive networks. These advertisements have been successful because children spend more time on watching television than on any other activity (Calvert, 2008). However, concerns have been raised over the influence of child-directed food advertisements on the rising prevalence of pediatric obesity and overweight cases. In essence, television food advertisement influences children’s food consumption behaviours and choices, which in turn leads to poor eating habits (Termini, Roberto & Hostetter, 2011).
Therefore, the proposed policy will entail the formulation food advertisement guidelines that will limit the exposure of children to food advertisements on television. The policy will particularly focus on banning excessive promotion of unhealthy food in television shows and programs that target the child audience. Furthermore, the policy will mandate advertisers to start promoting healthy eating behaviors. Hence, it will be crucial to visit specific stakeholders not only to familiarize them with the proposed policy but also to garner their legislative support. The process will entail identifying policymakers that have a history and experience on influencing policies concerning pediatric issues.
Review of Empirical Evidence
Children possess astonishing ability to recall content promoted in the advertising messages they watch on television (Sitt and Kunkel, 2008). The effectiveness of television food advertising targeting children is enhanced through the use of cartoons, celebrities, contests, games, kids’ clubs, collectibles, spokes-characters and much more. Product preference develops following exposure to a single advertisement. Repeated exposures to the same advertisement strengthen product preference. Children’s product preference influences their buying requests and children’s requests influences purchasing decisions that their parents make (Calvert, 2008).
Recent discussions over the increasing trend in childhood obesity have focused attention on the role of television in fuelling childhood obesity. Researchers have published study findings pertaining to the correlations between exposure to television food advertisements and children’s food intake. For example, Harris et al. (2009) has found out that child-targeted food advertisements focus largely on promoting foods that have high calorie and sugar content. Such foods include fast foods, confectionaries, carbonated beverages and salty snacks. Harris, Schwartz and Brownell (2010) have established that children exposed to television food advertisements pester their parents to buy the advertised food items than those who are not.
Child-directed food advertisements influence children’s eating habits. The extensive marketing of unhealthy beverages and food has fuelled poor diet and increasing incidences of obesity among children and adolescents across developed nations. A study conducted in Australia indicated that 86% of television food commercials seen by children in 2009 constituted products rich in saturated fat, sugar and/or sodium (Lobstein and Dibb, 2005). Findings from another study contacted in the U.S reported that sugary cereals and fast foods constituted approximately 58% to 60% of all television advertisements seen by adolescents and children.
The United Kingdom and Australia are examples of developed countries that have enacted regulations to limit television food advertisements targeted towards children. These policies require advertisers to promote healthy foods and eating habits (Termini, Roberto & Hostetter, 2011). On the other hand, Norway and Sweden has banned completely the marketing of foods to children of certain ages (Cavert, 2008). In the United States, food companies have developed self-regulations regarding child-targeted television food advertisement. However, major food companies in the U.S have not made significant changes to the food advertisements on television that target children (Sharma, Teret & Brownell, 2010).
Conversely, current policies governing child-targeted food advertisements vary considerably based on their approach and scope. While some have banned the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, others have only set boundaries for the advertisements. For instance, regulations in Australia have focused on reducing the overall amount of airtime devoted to food advertisements during children’s programs (Termini, Roberto & Hostetter, 2011). On the other hand, Canada focused on the content of food advertisements that target children (Dhar & Baylis, 2011). However, the effectiveness of these policies depends on parents’ perceptions about food advertisements targeting children. The government may formulate sound policies but it is the responsibility of parents to control children’s consumption of television content (Sitt and Kunkel, 2008).
The chosen policy issue is significant to nursing for two reasons. First, pediatric obesity and overweight has increasingly become a principal public health concern in the United States. National data collected between 2011 and 2012 has indicated that one in every three American children becomes obese or overweight prior to their fifth birthday (Ogden et al., 2014). Secondly, an elevated BMI in childhood years influences numerous sequels. For instance, findings from various studies indicate that childhood obesity is a prerequisite for type 2 diabetes, left ventricular hypertrophy, asthma, sleep apnea, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure (Freedman, Kettel-Khan & Serdula, 2011; Hughes & Reilly, 2008; Saxe, 2011).
The Policymaker Involved in the Policy Issue
The principal policymaker will be the county representative for the American Academy of Pediatricians. The American Academy of Pediatricians is a federal body that is involved in policy and advocacy issues at the federal, state and community levels. The policymaker will be contacted via an email correspondence that using the email address retrieved from the organization’s website. The first email communication will serve the purpose of sharing the policy issue with the county representative.
The Plan for the Legislative Visit
The visit will entail three critical steps. The first step will be to identify previous and current priority areas for policy development by the chosen policymaker. This step will be crucial to establish how the policy issue will fit in the policymaker’s agenda. The second step will entail establishing first contact with the policymaker through an email correspondence. The initial communication will be essential not only to familiarize the policymaker with the policy issue but also to develop the norms for the visit. The third step will be to make arrangements regarding the appropriate and flexible date and time for a visit. The legislative visit will take place in the county representative’s office. The legislative visit is projected to take place within the next two weeks depending on the availability of the policymaker.
The Message to the Policymaker
Dave is a seven-year-old preschooler with a BMI exceeding the 85th percentile. The concern over Dave’s BMI was noted when he was brought to the hospital for well-child clinic. Dave’s mother was worried over his son’s weight, particularly on the issue of bullying both at school and in the community. Therefore, Dave and his mother were booked for counseling to determine the underlying risk factors for Dave’s problem. During the counseling session, Dave’s mother admitted that his son lives a sedentary lifestyle since he spends his free time watching television and playing video games. Nevertheless, she indicated that she no longer has control over Dave’s eating habits because of his pester power when it comes to food choices.
Child-targeted food advertisement on television uses children’s favorite cartoon characters and celebrities to make the marketed foods more appealing. Documented evidence has shown that these advertisements influence children’s eating habits fundamentally. The television food advertisements that target children have disempowered parents concerning the control over their children’s eating habits. Therefore, this policy issue asks you (the policymaker) to support the development of regulations that will limit advertisers from exposing children to unhealthy foods. The policy issue will also restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. The primary aim of this policy will be to contribute to ongoing initiatives aimed at reversing the rising cases of pediatric obesity and overweight.
Techniques for Delivering the Message