It appears that Taiwan wants to become one of the first nations in the world to ban junk food advertisements on children's television programming. Concerned about the growing childhood obesity rate (25 to 30 percent of Tiwanese children are obese or overweight, according to data from the Jong Tung Foundation) the government is searching for solutions.
While tackling childhood obesity is an admirable goal, is eliminating junk food advertisements on children's programming the way to solve the problem? Perhaps limiting children's television watching period is a good first step. Or simply encouraging more physical activity.
But the real problem here is the chain of events that lead from the child seeing the advertisement to actually consuming the offending foods - and in such quantities that they lead to obesity. Where are the parents in this equation? Are parents really so weak that they need the government to eliminate any temptation their child may face?
How about watching the advertisements with your child and talking about how they are designed to make them want something that may not be good their bodies? Maybe parents could refuse to purchase the food - even despite the tantrum that may ensue.
According to a report from the Colorado Children's Campaign, here in Colorado the childhood obesity rate is about 14%. A report from the National Conference of State Legislators indicates that Colorado has the second lowest obesity rate in the country (we were just barely beat out by Utah).
Perhaps the answer to childhood obesity lies in encouraging a more active lifestyle. Coloradans are known for our love of the great outdoors and we love to involve our children in our active lifestyles. A Saturday in the mountains reveals whole families enjoying a hike or a bike ride together. The teeniest tots can be seen snowshoeing or even skiing down a mountain. Colorado parents promote children's health by modeling healthy lifestyles.
That's not to say there's not a role for public education in the prevention of childhood obesity. But censorship may not be the place to start.