The Times West Virginian


June 23, 2013

We have bigger problems than junk food commercials

FAIRMONT — There’s no such thing as Saturday morning cartoons. I guess I figured that out when I became a mother some 12 years ago.

Now there are 24-hour cartoon networks. Or at least nearly 24 hours of cartoons.

At any given time, you can turn on Nickelodeon and watch “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Trust me. After three kids, I actually get a little excited when there’s a new episode of “SpongeBob.” I have been known to keep the television on, after the kids have left the house or have gone to bed, if I haven’t seen a particular episode of “SpongeBob.”

It’s sad, I know. But maybe I’ll get a life when my kids leave the nest.

We were watching television Saturday — “SpongeBob,” probably — when a commercial for Cocoa Puffs came on. It wasn’t the first sugary cereal commercial that aired during that 30-minute program. And there were ads for fast food, fruit snacks, yogurt and drinks.

But this particular ad for Cocoa Puffs elicited a “can we get some?” from Jack.

Granted, we have a box of Cocoa Puffs in the kitchen. But since this issue has come up, I’ve been paying attention to it more. So since all three had seen the commercial, I asked what they liked about it. (You see how scientific this study is, right?)

“I liked the special effects.” — Jack, 5.

“I liked the way they showed all the chocolate.” — Jay, 9.

“I liked the way the Cocoa Puffs looked.” — Hal, 11.

So further scientific research was needed. I asked them why they wanted to buy the Cocoa Puffs after watching the commercial.

“It makes the milk chocolate.” — Hal

“The bird is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and birds are smart.” — Jay

“I like chocolate.” — Jack

Of course, these things were all mentioned in the commercial. And the commercial came on again before the end of the 30-minute program.

This is nothing new, by the way. I was cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs when I was Jack’s age. When I went to the store with my mom, the commercials for each of the products ran through my mind.

Is anything different? Some senators think so.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller was one who came out earlier this month, asking Nickelodeon’s parent company Viacom to become part of the fight against the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic. According to a 2010 study, 25 percent of the commercials kids see under the age of 12 are viewed on Nickelodeon. And of those commercials, 69 percent of foods advertised were of poor nutritional quality.

“This is about making sure our kids are able to live strong, healthy lives, and there are concrete steps each of us can take to support these efforts,” Rockefeller said in a statement on the issue. “Nickelodeon can take one major step forward in the fight against childhood obesity by banning junk food and sugar-filled beverage ads that target kids.”

Rockefeller also wants to eliminate incentives for companies that sell or market these products, and promote access to programs that encourage healthy and active lifestyles.

“We must do better in West Virginia to increase physical activity in our communities and promote the great health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Rockefeller. “Combined with more access to screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, these efforts can reduce the likelihood of chronic disease and improve our state’s overall health.”

So we wanted to hear what our readers had to say on the issue. Is the senator cuckoo or is it time to put our foot down when it comes to luring our kids toward unhealthy eating habits?

We posed the question on our online poll, which can be found at Last week, we asked, “Some lawmakers are asking the parent company of Nickelodeon to limit the number of commercials for sugary food geared toward children. What are your thoughts?”

And here’s what you had to say:

• Cartoon characters are on every box and can anyway — 6.94 percent

• Good! I’m tired of being harassed in the grocery store by my kids — 26.39 percent

• Seriously? Don’t we have bigger problems in the world? — 66.67 percent

It looks like most of us want to move on and fix other issues before trying to convince advertising companies to stop being such effective marketers.

This week, let’s talk about the use of cellphones and electronic devices on airplanes. The Federal Aviation Administration is talking about easing the ban for such devices during takeoff and landings. What are your thoughts?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor


Text Only
  • Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely

    The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
    It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
    It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.

    July 23, 2014

  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

  • County honors men who gave all in helping their community

    The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
    Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
    The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.

    July 16, 2014

  • State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less

    The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
    Let’s not do that again.

    July 15, 2014

  • Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past

    Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
    The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
    Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.

    July 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: Who would leave animal in sweltering car?

    I was standing and debating between two brands of a product in a big box store when I heard a call over the intercom:
    “Will the owner of a green Cavalier with a dog inside please report to the lawn and garden center.”
    I shook my head. I hate seeing dogs in cars waiting while their owners shop. About five minutes later, there was another announcement over the intercom.

    July 13, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads