Selling junk to our children—more on the 1st Amendment

My 2nd blog this week on the First Amendment

Only this time, the exercise of that amendment is not working to improve the health of our nation—but rather just the opposite. It’s being used as the “freedom” to sell whatever junk we want to children. And it’s just one more of the many forces that is driving the “madness” that we have created with regards to how we feed ourselves and then how we deal with the resulting negative impact on our health.

This is also the second time this week that my blog has been inspired by Mark Bittman of the New York Times. His 3-27-12 article was entitled “The Right to Sell Kids Junk.” He leads off his article (See link below) as follows:

The First Amendment to the Constitution, which tops our Bill of Rights, guarantees — theoretically, at least — things we all care about. So much is here: freedom of religion, of the press, of speech, the right to assemble and more. Yet it’s stealthily and  incredibly being invoked to safeguard the nearly unimpeded “right” of a handful of powerful corporations to market junk food to children.

He went on to report that kids see an average of 5,500 food ads on television every year —an average of over 15 per day—nearly all peddling junk. “Worse are the online “advergames” that distract kids with entertainment while immersing them in a product-driven environment. (For example: create your own Froot Loops adventure!)”

In this well-researched article, Mark explores the legal possibilities of “ending the madness” of selling junk food to children, but concludes that even though certain actions might not be blocked by the First Amendment, he doesn’t see much hope for relief in the near future:

Although this kind of regulation may be constitutional, we’re unlikely to see it any time soon, especially in an era of corporate “personhood.” It’s bad enough that kids are inundated with junk food ads on TV and online, but they’re also seeing them in the schools they attend every day, and on the buses that take them there and back.

Nine states currently allow advertising on school buses, and 11 more, plus the District of Columbia, are considering it this year; nowhere is there language that prohibits food or beverage ads. Maine is the only state with a law prohibiting junk food marketing in schools, but according to a recent report, 85 percent of that state’s schools visited were noncompliant, and most were wholly unaware of the law.

The Bottom Line from Mark. Clearly, public schools need all the revenue they can get, but if the only way to sufficiently fund the schools is by undermining the nutrition of the kids who attend them, we’d better bring in more junk food ads, because we’re going to have to pay for something else our kids will need: Health care. (See link to complete article below)

Mark and I totally agree when it comes to the absolute insanity of selling junk foods to kids—after all, according to the latest numbers from the CDC, approximately 17% of our nation’s children (ages 2 to 19) are obese and the levels of type 2 diabetes in children are skyrocketing. The time for action is now and the responsible parties are the parents.

But what is it going to take to move the parents into action? I have dedicated a great many blogs to that topic in the past year. And I have often suggested that the #1 reason that adults should adopt healthier diet-styles—is for the health of their children and all future generations. We just can’t wait for the politicians to get anything done; particularly when we’re talking about a “system” as complex as the one that controls what we eat—by controlling what we “want” to eat.

Are you a parent that’s ready to get serious about this mess? Are you ready to share this information with other parents? We live in a free society—we can decide how to feed ourselves and we can give our children the gift of health in the process. Here are a few of my selected blogs about children—for your weekend reading:

  1. Children — NOTHING is more important than what they eat!
  2. Deadliest oxymoron on Earth — Healthy Kids Menu
  3. Michelle, it’s time to tell the world about “meat & dairy.”
  4. Food allergies rising among children — says study
  5. Childhood Obesity — A “4-Leaf” school-teacher sounds off
  6. No cow’s milk for humans at any age…even Dr. Spock agrees
  7. Extremely early puberty…Would you believe 6 years old?
  8. How funny is a child with high cholesterol? Pretty funny on SNL.
  9. Protecting our children. And not just from predators.
  10. Dioxin, PCBs, DDT—and Fast Food

There is no doubt in my mind that what we must have is a grassroots revolution to end the madness. All we need to do is educate ourselves, start making healthier choices in what we eat, and help our children learn how to make those choices—and insist that they do. In the final chapter of our book, I summed it up thusly:

In a world full of sick, obese, or starving people, suffering animals and rapidly disappearing natural resources; how can we possibly not come together and end all of this madness once and for all? Given what you now know—if you don’t take action—what will you tell your adult grandchildren someday when they ask why you didn’t?

(The Mark Bittman article) The Right to Sell Kids Junk –

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, Board of Directors…

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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4 Responses to Selling junk to our children—more on the 1st Amendment

  1. Bill K. says:


    Personally I have found that if you get the message to children early they will not be tempted by all of the bad around them. I have seen it many times at kids birthday parties. The ones who were raised healthy usually refuse the cake and pop while the junk food families just dig right in.

    It is tough to change bad habits after they are formed or once a tree is grown crooked you can’t easily straighten it.


  2. Mike R says:

    I recently read Michele Simon’s book “Appetite for Profit,” in which she counters First Amendment arguments big businesses make to market junk food to our children. I suggest anyone who cares to read her book. And Leo is right, we vote every time we buy food. But it’s hard as a parent to counter the crap children see. Oh, by the way, Mickey D’s is now using a goat to sell “healthy” apple slices and chocolate milk to kids.

  3. Leo S. says:

    We don’t have to wait for legislators to pass laws to improve our food supply. They may not vote in our favor when they do vote. We vote every time we eat something. Do we really know the ingredients in the items we chose for food? Your articles go a long way to provide people the information they need to make better choices. If only we would take the time to read/view the many posts offered. The following link might offer suggestions.

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