Who is responsible for childhood obesity in U.S.?

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Despite the vocal outcries from public-advocacy groups against food companies and TV networks-and now a pending lawsuit targeting two-AdAge.com readers overwhelmingly see the real weight for childhood obesity falling on parents' shoulders.

"Parents are the only members of the family who can decide on nutritional value and make the purchase ... they are relinquishing control," said Patsy K. Ziegler, a lecturer at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

Cesar Arzayus, business development executive at VT2 Studios in Houston, agreed, calling the pending lawsuit against Kellogg and Viacom cable TV network Nickelodeon "ridiculous!!" Mr. Arzayus said that "greedy lawyers are the only reason this is happening. Parents need to take responsibility for raising their children. If this lawsuit were to win in [Massachusetts], parents might as well drop their kids off on the State Capitol steps."

Many of the respondents, parents themselves, expressed concerns over the way kids and even adults eat, but recognized that consumers themselves have a role to play in determining those offerings.

"I think society and our current rush-always-in-hurry, full-to-the-brim lifestyles need to take much of the blame for making our children fat," said Shelly Benson, marketing professor at Western Wisconsin Technical College in La Crosse, Wis. "Companies like Kellogg are just plain looking to fill their customers' needs by making quicker, more convenient foods ... too bad that we in America have, and demand, these less-than-healthy choices. But I don't see lifestyles or cravings changing."

That said, however, even among those who don't hold Kellogg responsible, many believe the food company can play a role in fighting childhood obesity. Lou Lopez, a research consultant in New York, suggested Kellogg should "make concerted efforts to encourage kids to exercise and eat a balanced diet."

What you say: 87% of AdAge.com voters don’t think Kellogg should be held liable for making kids fat, and say parents should instead be held responsible for their children’s weight. Just 13% of the nearly 2,000 respondents, however, do blame the food marketer’s less-than-nutritious foods and its ad practices for helping bloat the waistlines of America’s young, and call for Kellogg to take more of a leading role in health and nutrition.

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