Unhealthy Eating Habits Are Growing, Thanks To Big Social Media Platforms

Cancer Research UK recently conducted a research, with the target demographic between ages 11 to 19, in an effort to extrapolate the amount of junk food advertisement the youth of today face, and the main sources from which it comes.

Cancer Research UK, internationally recognised as the world’s largest independent cancer research organisation, delves into establishing links between behavioural habits people have, and their links to cancer. This is of course only a microcosm of the expansive body of work the charity offers, which also includes discovering and/or synthesising multiple chemotherapy drugs such as tamoxifen. It also hosts team members that are Nobel laureates, firmly establishing the weight its research brings to the table.

The research, conducted in the United Kingdom with a batch size of 3,394 individuals, inquired after junk food advertisements spotted over the last month and their sources. The results concluded that an alarming 88% of the sample size had encountered “special offers” from outlets, and 86% had encountered advertising on social media platforms. Television accounted for 84% of the population, while magazines and newspapers contributed to a much smaller 57%. These figures are all the more worrying when coupled with another conclusion the study reached. That being, individuals encountering and showing awareness of such heavy advertisements are also more likely to develop unhealthy eating habits. A conclusion that, while certainly not surprising, should still hold concerns for parents.

Naturally, there will be readers who will find such research as micro-managing. They will decry such heated debate as ancillary at best, and controlling at worst. Which, this author must concede, are fair concerns. Dictating eating habits, especially for our youth, can be a hassle to parents everywhere, especially with the ease of access fast food provides in our lives. However, unchecked, such habits can develop into very unhealthy lifestyles, paired with diseases such as depression, anxiety, and even a purportedly reduced immunity to COVID-19.

This isn’t even the first time junk food and its ramifications on our youth has been raised as a conversation. Former First Lady of the USA, Michelle Obama, led entire campaigns to reduce the effect of the “obesity epidemic” across America’s youth. The most notable of these campaigns, Let’s Move!, encouraged physical activity as a creative outlet, paired with labelled, healthy eating. More recently, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has even launched an open consultation aiming to altogether ban junk food advertisement online. The consultation, scheduled to conclude on the 22nd of December, has been met with active opposition from advertising agencies and regulating bodies. These institutions claim that such a ban would be stifling, and such a multifaceted issue requires more nuance to handle.

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