Does this Internet make your kid look fat?

Most past attacks on the Internet for making kids fat focused on the sedentary lifestyles they created. Now there's a new tack, attacking the Internet as a medium whose ads push kids toward junk.

Johnny Depp selling Apple Jacks and Corn PopsMost past attacks on the Internet for making kids fat focused on the sedentary lifestyles they created. (Picture from SideSalad.Net.)

Now there's a new tack, attacking the Internet as a medium whose ads push kids toward junk.

That's one headline from an FTC study of $1.6 billion in food ads aimed at children. (PDF) Through cross-promotion of cartoon characters on TV, the Web, and in video games, food companies are addicting kids to fat and sugar.

More than two-thirds of the 44 companies studied are selling to kids online, according to the study, using chats, social networking and viral videos.

While the FTC itself wants self-regulation,  legislators who commented on the report were far more aggressive.

Industry responded with its own study, saying many foods (like Apple Jacks) have been reformulated to be healthier, and ad dollars are being directed away from pure-junk to healthier choices.

Personally I have always wondered why they can't make junk food with real nutrition. But is Apple Jacks with real apples still junk food?

In other words there are two questions, the manufacture of food that makes kids fat and the decision on where to place ad dollars.

But does even accepting that premise make food makers responsible for kids' health? Must food manufacturers care about nutrition,or should they just give us (and our kids) what we want?

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