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Fat commercials

New research shows that British children are fatter than they ought to be. More than 23 percent of children under four are overweight. Almost 10 percent of these children are considered clinically obese. While not every overweight kid is going to grow into an overweight adult, the odds are that it will happen.

Compounding the problem is that today's children watch lots of television — more than 3.5 hours of television per day. If you factor in video games, then that number skyrockets to 6.5 hours per day.

Like any good bureaucrat, UK Health Secretary Dr. John Reid has suggested a governmental solution to getting the fat out of our children. He wants to eliminate any junk food advertising from television shows during prime children's viewing hours. The key, says Dr. Reid, is to stop tempting them with sugary drinks, fat-filled burgers and crisps while they get their fill of cartoons.

Hey, I'm all for healthy children, and I might go along with his suggested ban. However, his proposal doesn't go far enough. After all, adults are overweight too. Why not extend his ban to programs we adults watch too?

Here's what I suggest.

First, I'd eliminate all chocolate advertising from women's shows. Everyone knows that women get fat by sitting around eating chocolate bonbons. I'd require that the only commercials in women's TV programs be for fat-free, low-sugar foods and exercise equipment. Don't show expensive jewelry or clothes. After all, once they don't get their chocolate fix, they might go off on a spending spree to buy these items.

Men's TV programming needs similar changes. First, the beer ads have to go. We all drink too much beer, so during football, sport and car racing shows, no beer commercials. Besides, those commercials usually have beautiful, scantily-clad women in them, and it's way too tempting to do something stupid when you combine men, beer and titillating women.

Of course, once we men realize there are no beer commercials during the big game, we'll probably react much like the women might, and we'll want to buy something. That means no power tool commercials during men's shows either. Man, that'll be tough to handle!

I suppose we should also eliminate the same dangerous food items Dr. Reid has mentioned from men's television programs too. No more fish and chips. Hamburgers, pizza and cheese have to go, too. That means replacing those spots with commercials for tofu, yogurt and high-fiber breakfast cereal.

I suppose we men could benefit also from additional exercise just like our kids. But, rather than encouraging us to get off the sofa and work out more, why not just use that time to sell exercise equipment. The difference I suggest here is that the people demonstrating these machines should be young and attractive. Don't show me some 50-year old, overweight, flabby man on the latest treadmill. No, I want to see a 25-year-old, slim, attractive, athletic woman jogging on that machine. That is much more likely to get me off the couch to buy one of those devices.

Maybe Dr. Reid has something here after all. Take all the good stuff, the things we television watchers like, and then ban them from television advertising. In the open slots, run the most uninteresting, albeit healthy products in their place.

The result? No one watching television commercials, that's for sure.

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