IMPACTS OF FOOD PRODUCT ADVERTISEMENTS OF PAKISTAN TELEVISION ON THE EATING HABITS OF CHILDREN
By MALIK TARIQ MAHMOOD
Television belongs to the family of audio-visual communication medium. It is able to transmit sounds and images carrying message of a varied nature and for a variety of purpose. It has strong influence on people, in the culture and on other media. It is a widely used telecommunication system for broadcasting and receiving moving pictures and sound over a distance from all around the world. The term may also be used to refer specifically to a television set, programming or television transmission. Television commercials have become one of the most effective, most persuasive, and most popular methods of selling products of many sorts.
Within Pakistani culture we need to look deeper at the role of television and advertisements, to assess why they hold such a valuable position. Pakistan Television is a permanent fixture in children’s lives. The television set is as familiar to children as the faces of family members. Television set is always there, to entertain and to give company to children, especially when no one else in the mood to play, chat or interact with them. They are increasingly being exposed to different cultures, absorbing new ideas and impressions about other cultures.
Many television advertisements are catchy jingles or catch-phrases that generate sustained appeal, which may remain in the minds of television viewers long after the span of the advertising campaign. Nowadays advertising spread in our entire culture influences in society and our fundamental patterns of life. Advertising can be seen as one of the factors that contribute to shape people’s life, their basic values, and attitudes. But actual picture is different, according to Edger “Advertising is the art of making whole lies out of half truth.’1
Advertising has been watched in many ways: on Television, Newspapers, Billboards, Walls, Video, Internet and in many other forms. The protection of children from harm is linked directly to the issue of what affects observed from viewing television. The criticisms regarding watching television of children are linked to what they watch and for how long. Television advertising on food causes parental concern; parents try to control the television viewing of their children. Parental control of television viewing is expected to lower the number of hours of a child, which leaves impacts on their health.1
Today’s children are our future and unique in many ways from previous generation. But perhaps the most influencing factor on children’s health is television advertisements. There are general concerns of parents that television advertising has negative influence intended or unintended on children’s health.
Advertising is the structured and composed nonpersonal communication of information, usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature, about products by identified sponsors through various media. Advertising companies naturally communicate to large number of people about their products. There is nothing wrong with that, as it allows innovative ideas and concepts to be shared with others. However, as the years have progressed, the advertising methods and techniques have become advance, appealing, shaping, and even creating consumer’s needs where there has been none before, or turning luxuries into necessities.2
Mass advertising is no longer solely a means of introducing and distributing products, though it does that. It is a major mechanism in the ability of a relatively small number of giant corporations to hold disproportionate power over the economy. These corporations need newspapers, magazines, and broadcasting not just to sell their goods but to maintain their economic and political influence. The media are no longer neutral agents of the merchants but essential gears in the machinery of corporate gigantism, and increasingly they are not only needed but they are owned by the corporate giants.3
HISTORY OF ADVERTISING
Advertising is as old as civilization itself. The earliest beginnings of advertising, of course, are impossible to pinpoint, but there are several examples dating back thousands of years. In early days, signboards were placed above the doors of business establishments, and later, the town crier was an important advertising medium. Advertising was a well established part of the social environment of early civilizations. However, until the advent of mass selling in the 19th century, advertising played only a minor role in the conducting of business.4
After the invention of printing handbills, posters and then newspapers were used in increasing the quantities of advertise products. The development of railroad transportation enabled advertising industry to send its products to consumers who lived far from the manufacturing plants. Advertising assumed national character as business people used both newspapers and television to broaden their markets.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The advertising of food products of Pakistan Television impact on children’s health – eating disorder and they become obese and idle. The researcher interested to investigate these impacts of food-products advertising on the health of children.
The study was conducted while keeping following objectives in mind:
i) To investigate children’s viewing habits of Pakistan Television
ii) To find out impacts of advertising on children’s health
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Although there are many beneficiaries of the study but the main beneficiaries are parents’, and personnel of advertising agencies. All parents want to provide good food to their children for healthy life. The results of the study will show the parents about impact of advertising on the health of their children and will help them to compensate these affects.
This chapter has been divided into five parts. The first part describes some general things about Television advertising. The second part of the chapter is explaining theory of the advertising; how the advertisements affect the health of children and their lives. The third part explains the role of advertising in the society. The fourth part describes the health of children and their BMI. The fifth part of the study explores the negative impacts of ads on the health of children of 8 to 12 years.
Television is an important socialisation agent; it is present in children’s lives. Many advertisements broadcast on television are the creations of brilliant minds that want to persuade them to purchase the advertised products. Evidence are mounting that marketing to children is harmful. Nearly every aspect of children’s lives has been adversely affected by recent trends of advertising. Research links advertising to increased obesity and eating disorders in children because they are vulnerable to persuasive messages. According to Media scholar Gorge “Television has become unavoidable and unremitting factor in shaping that what we are and what we will become.”1
The children under the age of eight are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate and unbiased. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits as evidenced by today’s youth. This is a critical concern because the most common products marketed to children are cereals, candies, sweets, sodas and snack foods. Advertising of such unhealthy food products to young children contributes to poor nutritional habits that may last a lifetime and be a variable in the current epidemic of obesity among kids.2
A consumer exposed hundreds commercial messages every day. They may appear in the form of billboards, newspapers, television commercials, etc. It is actually a very structured form of applied communication, employing both verbal and nonverbal elements that are composed to fill specific space and time formats determined by the sponsor. First and foremost, advertising is communication – a special kind of communication. Traditionally, advertising has been principally a one-way process, but with today’s new interactive technology, consumers can give feedback to advertising messages in real time using the same channels as the sender. Most advertising is intended to be persuasive – to win converts to a product, service, or idea. Some ads, such as legal announcements, are intended merely to inform, not to persuade. But they are still ads because they satisfy all the other requirements of the definition.3
The issues surrounding advertising directed to children are related to certain commercial campaigns primarily targeting children. Cold-drink advertisements are commonly shown during sports events and seen by millions of children, creating brand familiarity and motivating children for buying. They have been exposed television more than 15 edible ads during one hour programme and when they watch television 4 hours a day that means they saw one product’s ad around 20 times in one sitting. This is referred to graph no. 15 at page 34.
Advertising is persuasive and informational influence on the behaviour of the audience. Advertising is also a marketing tool and may be used in combination with other marketing tools, such as sales promotions, personal selling tactics, or publicity. But the actual picture is different, according to Edger “Advertising is the art of making whole lies out of half truth.”
The impact of television advertising is the greatest among children. The children like television commercials more than elder group, and they are also more deeply influenced by the catchy appearance of advertiser on their lives.
Advertising aimed at children is based on three concerns, first, it is believed that advertising promote superficially and values founded in material goods and consumption. Second, children are considered inexperienced consumers and easy prey for the sophisticated persuasion of advertisers. Third, advertising influences children demand for everything from toy to snack food.4
THE ROLE OF ADVERTISING
Advertising plays a vital role in the economic system of a country. It helps in selling ideas, goods, and services. Advertising both reflects and affects our lifestyles, and thus, plays a substantial social role. Advertising has become so close to our life, therefore, it serves multidimensional communication needs of society. Business firms, labour unions, government agencies, and political leaders are successfully employing advertising to inform and persuade people about their purpose.
Kapoor gives the four points of role of advertising: First, the country’s gross national product is greater and the standard of living is higher than they would otherwise be. Advertising creates jobs with a greater variety of products, and improves the quality of products and increase the economy of country. Second, argument of Kapoor is that advertising plays a major role in informing the consumer so that more intelligent choices are made in the marketplace. Third, rationale for advertising is that the firm’s cost of production per unit of output is lower because advertising increases demand for the firm’s output, so, advertising leads to more efficient use of resources in the economy. Finally, she says that advertising leaves the impacts either positive or negative on the general masses as well as on children. These impacts are changed according to the culture and environment.5
The above mentioned four points are whole picture of advertising that advertisers want to achieve. This same situation can be found in Pakistan. So, no one can able to explore all the aspects of advertising at this level because so many hurdles are there, such as lack of resources, shortage of time.
Every parent consciously and keenly observes the health of their children in all society. But parents are more attached with their children in Pakistani society because children are their future and they will help in finances when parents will retire. All parents like to provide good food to their children for their health and give proper education for making them a good citizen. Both parents are working because they want to improve their living standard; this is referred to graph no. 4. Some times parents over looks children’s activities i.e. what and when they eat? When and how they watch television? Why they become obese and idle? 6
Actually the researcher will explore the answer of all these questions because these questions are mainly related with the study.
Health experts have linked excessive watching television to obesity – a significant health problem today. While watching television, children are inactive to buy such products. They are also bombarded with advertising messages that encourage them to buy and eat unhealthy foods such as potato chips, burgers, pastries etc. and empty-calorie soft drinks that often become preferred snack foods. Indirectly advertising leave too much affect on children’s health. Even if children are watching 4 hours of quality educational programs on television in a day, that means they are not exercising, reading, socializing, or spending time outside. But some studies have shown that decreasing the amount of television watching by children led to less weight gain and lower body mass index increase, and make them idle that is not better for their health.7
BODY MASS INDEX (BMI)
Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to estimate healthy weight of average people. A BMI of 20 to 24 is desirable for most adults. A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and a person with a BMI of 30 or above is considered obese. Obesity is associated with an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases.
The body mass index (BMI) is commonly used to determine desirable body weights. BMI is a measure of an adult’s weight in relation to height, and it is calculated metrically as weight divided by height squared (kg/m2).
Body mass index only provides a rough estimate of desirable weight; however, physicians recognize that many other factors besides height affect weight. Weight alone may not be an indicator of fat, as in the case of a bodybuilder who may have a high BMI because of a high percentage of muscle tissue, which weighs more than fat. Likewise, a person with a sedentary lifestyle may be within a desirable weight range but have excess fat tissue. However, the higher BMI is greater the risk for developing serious medical conditions.
BMI Chart for Boys
Body Mass Index (BMI) percentiles for boys, from two to twenty years, so that you can track your child’s growth curve and see if they are underweight, overweight or just right.
BMI Chart for Girls
Body Mass Index (BMI) percentiles for girls, from two to twenty years, so that you can track your child’s growth curve and see if they are underweight, overweight or just right.
What is Fat?
Fats, or lipids, are nutrients in food that children’s body uses to build nerve tissue (like the brain) and hormones. The body also uses fat as fuel. If fats that children have eaten are not burned as energy or used as building blocks, they are stored by the body in fat cells. This is body’s way of thinking ahead: By saving fat for future use, the body plans for times when food might be scarce.
Fat gives food flavour and texture, but it’s also high in calories, and excess amounts of fatty foods as with excess amounts of any food can cause many health risks. For children and adolescents, desserts and snacks including potato chips, chocolate, cakes, doughnuts, pastries, and cookies are a significant source of fat. Children also get fat from whole milk products and high-fat meats, such as fried and spicy meat. Of course, fast-food and take-out meals tend to have more fat than home cooking; and in restaurants, fried dishes are the highest in fat content. Fat also often “hides” in foods in the form of creamy, cheesy, or buttery sauces or dressings.
Still, though, fat is an important part of a healthy diet when the children eat the right kinds of fats especially those from certain kinds of fish in recommended amounts. Like carbohydrates in recent years, fats have been wrongly accused of being “bad”. Although some definitely better than others, certain kinds of fat are actually good for teenager and children an important part of a healthy diet.
Obesity increases the risk of developing disease. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, almost 70 percent of heart disease cases in the United States are linked to excess body fat, and obese people are more than twice as likely to develop hypertension. The risk of medical complications, particularly heart disease, increases when body fat is distributed around the waist, especially in the abdomen. This type of upper body fat distribution is more common in men than in women.8
CAUSES OF OBESITY
A calorie is the unit used to measure the energy value of food and the energy used by the body to maintain normal functions. When the calories from food intake equal the calories of energy the body uses, weight remains constant. But when a person consumes more calories than the body needs, the body stores those additional calories as fat, causing subsequent weight gain.
Obesity, medical condition characterized by storage of excess body fat. The human body naturally stores fat tissue under the skin and around organs and joints. Fat is critical for good health because it is a source of energy when the body lacks the energy necessary to sustain life processes, and it provides insulation and protection for internal organs. But the accumulation of too much fat in the body is associated with a variety of health problems. Studies show that individuals who are overweight or obese run a greater risk of developing diabetes mellitus, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some forms of cancer.9
The causes of obesity are complex and include some factors. Basically, obesity occurs when a person eats more calories than the body burns up. The children have an 80 percent chance of being obese if their parents are obese. Obesity in childhood and adolescence can be related to:
i) Poor eating habits
ii) Overeating habits
iii) Unnecessary use of Cold drinks
iv) Eating Non-nutrition food
v) Eating out-side the home
The percentage of overweight children is growing at an alarming rate. On the whole, children were spending less time exercising and more time in front of the TV and computer. And today’s busy families have fewer free moments to prepare nutritious, home-cooked meals, day in and day out. From fast food to electronics, quick and easy seems to be the mindset of many people, young and old, in the new millennium.
IMPACTS OF ADVERTISING
Modern life style has frozen the family size in the Pakistani society. Nuclear family has taken place of the joint family. Lifestyle trends in urban Pakistan (rising incomes, longer working hours, more working mothers, and time-poor/cash-rich parents) tend to support their families, which lead the child to watching television and increased consumption of unnecessary food. Furthermore, the advertising industry makes junk food seem irresistible.
Children who watch a lot of television have difficulty in concentrating at school because they are used to being given all the answers instead of being asked to think about questions. If children watch less television, their imagination will grow.
Unfortunately, children are not given proper guidance as to what they should do. The media is not playing its proper role in the promotion of children’s rights and the difficulties they have to face in the society. Even the authorities of Pakistan Television ignored this side and they can not design programs according to children’s requirements.
IMPACTS ON CHILDREN’S HEALTH
James suggests that “Childhood obesity arises from foods that are high in fat and low in fibre. When children eat this food, the insulin not only increases the effects of the pleasure-chemical dopamine (making the child want to eat more of the same food) but also reduces the effects of the hormone leptons, making the child want to eat more and be less active”.10
Television also has negative impacts, it creates eye problems. It stops the children from going out and playing with friends. Its advertising makes them buy things even if they do not need. It can make them tired and unable to focus on their lessons.
LEAVE UNHEALTHY HABITS
Gerbner said that the many media experts in Western countries who continue to be deeply anxious about the commercial context of television programming. They argue that television advertising leave impacts on society, particularly on the health of children, and television advertising is not going on air without reason.11
The impact of television on children has received much attention. Research suggests that children see television advertising as just another form of programming and react uncritically to its messages, which makes them especially vulnerable to advertising. There is also concern about the way in which children respond to advertising. Research indicates that many children are unduly influenced by this standard of health, become dissatisfied with their own bodies, and may develop eating disorders in pursuit of a thin figure. Advertising affect daily life and eating habits etc. The children as well as the teenager get influenced, consciously or unconsciously by advertisements of Pakistan television.
Every scientific discipline employs a particular methodology in conducting of research. This includes some assumptions and values which serve as a rationale (underlying reasons) for effort of research and standards criteria for the whole process. The basic purpose of this research study was investigating the negative impacts of eating habits/disorder on the health of children. For this purpose systematic random sampling method was used. The sample size was limited to 30 children aged between 8 – 12 years and their parents.
This study was survey research about “Impacts of food product advertisements of Pakistan Television on eating habits of Children” in Satellite Town (B-Block) Rawalpindi city. The researcher used questionnaire for parents and interviews of the children as instrument to gather the data.
In this research study children of age 8 – 12, and their parents in Rawalpindi city were the population of the study.
SAMPLING TECHNIQUE AND SAMPLE
Random and convenience sampling techniques were applied in this research for selecting the sample. The sampling frame was 30 children aged 8 – 12, and their parents from Satellite Town (B-Block) Rawalpindi city.
There are three demographic variables in this study:
In order to realise the objective, a survey study was carried out. The data was collected mainly from the primary sources. A questionnaire was designed for parents. Children’s questionnaire was also used for structured interview.
Data was collected through questionnaire and interview. Questionnaire were distributed among the parents and administered by the researcher personally. Structured Interview was conducted to all children respondents of sample.
DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
In this chapter the researcher analyzed the data of impacts of advertisements on the health of children. The data on the “Impacts of Food Product Advertisements of PTV on the Health of Children were collected through a questionnaire which was especially designed for this study. Primarily, cross-tabulation statistical procedure was applied to investigate relationship between demographic variables i.e. (gender, age, and qualification, and presented in graphs alongwith data tables with interpretation.
As evident form the graph 1, the majority of the male respondents (34% fell in the age category of 30 to 45 as well as female respondents in the same groups made 23%. The results showed that majority of the both groups respondents were youngster.
As evident from the graph 2, the majority of the male respondents (20%) was Doctor whereas 20% were running their business, 10% female respondents were Govt. employee and 10% were housewives.
Graph 3, showed that 57% of male respondents and 30% female respondents were highly qualified. So, male respondents were higher qualified as compared to female.
The graph 4 documents the monthly income of the parents-respondents. As evident from the graph that male respondent belongs to well earning families as compare to female respondents.
As evident from the graph 5 this shows the composition of families of the respondents, the majority of respondents having four members in their family.
As evident from the graph 6 all parent respondents watched PTV regularly.
As evident from the graph 7 that majority (13%) of male-respondents watched PTV in evening and late night as compare to female respondents who liked to watch Pakistan Television in morning and afternoon.
Graph 8 showed that majority of parent watches Pakistan Television for 2 to 3 hours daily.
Graph 9 reflects that all children respondents were regular viewers of Pakistan Television.
The results of the graph 10 shows that children like to watch television in evening mostly but some respondents like to watch in afternoon as well.
As evident from the graph 11, the majority (30%) of children respondents watches PTV for more than four hours daily. According to the data collected children of 8-12 years old were heavy viewers of PTV. Actually that is the problem area because watching television for long time i.e. more than five hours creates adverse effects on the health, especially children of 8-12 years old.
The results of the graph 12 shows that majority (33%) of children respondents like to watch children shows/quiz programmes as guided by their parents.
Graph 13 reflects that parents allow their children to watch PTV for the purpose of getting updated information and for entertainment as well.
Graph 14 is evident that male respondents felt tiredness when they watch PTV for more than 3 to 4 hours but female respondents got bored that means female liked to watch more than four hours.
As evident from the graph 15 that majority of respondents (40%) watched ads around 15-20 and 20% saw more than 25 ads in an hour. Its means that during one hour program a lot of food-products were advertised on PTV which instigated children to buy these products on their own or ask their parents to buy the same for them.
As evident from the graph 16 that majority of both parent and children respondents usually liked to buy cold-drinks but some children responded that they also liked to buy chips type products as well. These products increase fats on the body especially in children because the age 8-12 years is the grooming age and they need proper and nutritionist diet for their health.
As evident from the graph 17 parent respondents, responded that children attitude was changed if they did not buy or allow them to buy such edibles. They behave aggressively with their elders or parents.
The results of the graph 18 show the impacts of Pakistan Television’s ads on children. Parents responded that their children tried to imitate when they saw ads, but some parents responded that they felt some aggressiveness during/after watching ads because advertiser showed super human actions.
As results of the graph 19 shows that parents always buy food products on their children’s demand because they were well earned (refer to graph no. 4). They fulfilled all demands of their children whatever they demanded for eating. This eating habit created eating-disorder in the children of 8-12 years old.
As evident from the graph 20 that parents felt that PTV’s ads effected their children’s diet because their children having enough money to buy belong to upper class families (refer to graph no.4).
As evident of graph 21 that parents responded that these ads increased eating disorder and decreased health of their children.
The purpose of this research was to find out Impacts of Food Product Advertisements of Pakistan Television on the Eating Habits of Children. The major variables those are likely to have a significant impact of Pakistan Television ads on children’s health.
In Pakistan almost all the children have been watching television regularly. The information about children’s spending time on viewing television was to estimate their exposure to the variety of advertisements. Variation of advertising’s influence has been observed differently in one child to another, and from day to day for the same child. Nevertheless, some general influence of advertising on children were observed, which presented in chapter 4 at graph 9.
According to the graph 11; all the children have been watching television daily. 23% children saw television for up to 3 hours and 30% were watched television up to 4 hours a day. Thus, they were found heavy and regular viewers. Most of the children spend quite a lot of time sitting in front of television screen watching various programmes.
Thus, children of 8 to 10 years old were found to be more attracted towards television ads and they watched them with great interest but with the increasement in the age, children’s preferences shifted towards television programmes.
Most of the children in all age groups watched the television ads with great. That means many audio-visual techniques in television advertising were simply aimed at gaining, and holding children’s attention, which impressed them to purchase various products. Thus, television advertisements could really make a tremendous impact on children. The researcher found out the following aspects:
1) Children of 8-12 years old and their parents were watched Pakistan Television TV regularly. Most of the male parent liked to watch at late night but female parent liked to watch at morning and evening and their children liked to watch at evening. The parents’ watching span was 2-3 hours but their children’s watching span was 4-5 hours daily.
2) Children liked to watch children shows/quiz programmes but their parents allowed them to watch of PTV for getting information and entertainment as well.
3) Male respondents felt tiredness when they watched PTV for more than 3 to 4 hours but female respondents got bored that means female liked to watch more than four hours.
4) Majority of parents and children usually liked to buy cold-drinks but some children also liked to buy chips type products as well. The researcher find out that these products increase fats on the body especially in children because the age 8-12 years is the grooming age and they need proper and nutritionist diet for their health.
5) Children’s attitude was changed if they did not buy or allow them to buy such edibles. They behaved aggressively with their elders or parents.
6) The children tried to imitate when they saw ads, but some parents responded that they felt some aggressiveness during/after watching ads because advertiser showed super human actions.
7) Parents always bought readymade food products on their children’s demand because they were well earned (refer to graph no. 4). They fulfilled all demands of their children whatever they demanded for eating. This eating habit created eating-disorder in the children of 8-12 years old.
8) Ads of PTV effected their children’s diet because their children having enough money to buy such edible belong to upper class families (refer to graph no.4).
9) Ads of Pakistan Television increased eating disorder and decreased health of children of 8-12 years old.
Mostly children are addicted to viewing TV their average of viewing is more then 60% that means they are watching TV more then five hours per day, they are heavy viewers. After/during watching TV’s ads most of the children demanding drinks i.e. coca-cola, des, Pepsi these drinks develops unhealthy habits of children. Some children ages of 10-12 are trying to imitate the same action which they seen during that ads, which are dangerous for their lives.
The data of this research study proves that fats increased in the body of people especially in children, if they regularly drink these products. Increases fat in the body is not good sign because fat creates obesity and hear-diseases. Children are over weight according to their age and height because they are regularly use these cold drinks and eating fried meats outside the home with their parents or elders.
Children having less weight according to their BMI it’s due to their eating disorder. They think that if we eat and drink more than other we have good muscles but their stomachs are not digesting the such food properly, so eating disorder increased and after a couple of months their weight is decreasing. That is only for their eating disorder. They seen that the performer of powder-milk ads is healthier because s/he drink that milk after that they trying to buy and drink that power-milk but they do not know the actual picture.
After concluding the results of the data the researcher give the following recommendations:
i) Policymakers need to take steps to better protect children from exposure to advertising because of the inherent unfairness of advertising to audiences who lack the capability to evaluate wrong information in television advertising.
ii) Parents should attempt to restrict their children’s TV time.
iii) Teachers and parents can help children to decide what they should watch on TV.
iv) Adults should look out for things their children do not understand on TV.
v) Parents should also keep an eye on any other negative effects of watching Pakistan Television on children’s health, eating-disorder and their eye sight problems.
vi) Children should be encouraged both in their schools and at home to discuss television advertising.
vii) Parents/Teachers should help children to look for programmes which relevant for their health and has some positive impacts on their health of Pakistan Television.
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