Junk Food Marketers Infiltrate the Classroom

Junk Food Marketers Infiltrate the Classroom

When you’re a parent trying to protect your kids from too much sugar or other unhealthy foods, today your job is harder than ever.

You’re up against all the ads for sugary cereals, candy and sodas that have been on TV since we were kids. But now you also have to deal with ads for junk food on the smart phones that more and more kids have these days.

Thank goodness, at least children are protected from ads at school, where there’s no TV and teachers make students turn off their phones. Right?

Count by Five bookUnfortunately, it turns out that junk food marketers are now targeting students during the school day too. Under the guise of offering free educational materials to cash-strapped public schools, Coke, McDonald’s, Hershey’s and other companies have found a sneaky way to get into classrooms.

For example, corporate sponsors offer free curriculums to busy teachers or convince PTAs to get the kids to sell candy as a fundraiser. Materials used in math class these days may include the “Hersey’s Milk Chocolate Multiplication Book” or the “Reese’s Pieces Count by Fives Book.”

And schools in low-income neighborhoods have the hardest time saying no to these corporate sugar daddies. Did you know that African-American and Latino kids are targeted for up to 90% more junk food marketing in schools than other kids?

Food activist Anna Lappé has been educating people for years on the real story behind food in America today. Now, her Food MythBusters website has just put out a quiz about how marketers try to get around parents to tempt our kids with junk food. I think you’ll be surprised at how much you don’t know!

Along with the answer for each question, the quiz also offers links so you can find out more. And if you want to go deeper or even get involved with campaigns or groups trying to make things better, the site has a section devoted just to the issue of food marketing and advertising.

Take the quiz here.