Junk Food Advertisements and their Influence on the American Diet

Media does play an active role in the current obesity epidemic in America. An average American is constantly connected to technology. That is an avenue for junk food companies to affect health behavior and gain business. Let’s use McDonald’s as an example of a business that uses media to affect healthy eating behaviors. McDonald’s television advertisements featuring celebrity endorsements (third party advocates), or “agriculture experts” rave about all the new healthy options included in their menu. When the reality is a McDonald’s Crispy Chicken Salad has more calories than a Big-Mac. McDonald’s also pays to have their product’s placed into movies in a effort to continue to subconsciously reinforce the desirability of their products.

The fast food chain also recently launched a smartphone app through which you can see the nearest McDonald’s locations, and even order meals. This fast food cooperation is literally making it so that if you see their ads, you can instantly order their food without even any physical effort in-between. McDonald’s has an official twitter, Facebook, and SnapChat account through which they earn unpaid advertisement by having restaurant diners: send pictures, post videos and or comment on their “delicious food”.   McDonald’s also sponsors global sporting events   like the Olympics. How well do McNuggets pair up with exercise? Anyway you slice it, McDonalds’ marketing schemes will get you!

A recent article in Time Magazine examined the possible links between junk/fast food advertisements and their affects on health behaviors. The article cited studies conducted in Japan and the U.K. that have shown: the more a child is exposed to higher-calorie foods/drinks the more likely they are to consume them. Consumption of high- calorie increases risk of children becoming overweight adults, as well developing chronic diseases. The article also interviewed a council member of the American Pedriatics Association, Dr. Victor Strasburger, who stated the fact that an average American child watches 8,000 commercials on T.V. about a variety of foods/drinks. Only 165 of the 8,000 are promoting intake of fruits/vegetables. According to Dr. Strasburger, “Clearly eating behavior changes if you watch a lot of TV”.

A video that offers possible solutions to the commercial epidemic was created by Common Sense Media. The non-profit organization CSM, whose focus is to educate and advocate   “…to families to promote safe technology and media for children,” released an educational video about the dangers and affects of junk food ads on those who are introduced to them. The video advises parents about product placement, celebrity endorsements, and educating their children about looking for subtle plugs for junk foods (online video games sponsored by McDonald’s or sugary breakfast cereals).

The warnings offered in the article, and video are for parents to educate their children about false claims in unhealthy food/drink ads. However, both do not offer any solutions for adults who may not know of the false-hood promoted in subtle or aggressive ads. What are adults who themselves have acquired unhealthy eating habits, or do not know about proper nutrition supposed to teach their children?

-Bushra Raza


Is this the end of workout infomercials like P90X?

Infomercials have been around since nearly the start of television with sponsor companies having the goal of selling their products to a wide viewing audience. One of the all time biggest selling promotions was the workout video which came into popularity in the 1980s. The main idea of a workout video was to have people exercise at home and save money instead of buying a membership to a gym or hiring a personal trainer. When you throw in a well known celebrity to lead your workout like Jane Fonda or Cindy Crawford in the early days, it’s bound to sell.

In today’s market the biggest and best known workout videos are P90X or Insanity. As people might watch infomercials for P90X or Insanity, you would think they are competitors competing for an audience that only will only buy their product and dismiss others. However, this is not true. Both P90X and Insanity are both owned by a well known company called BeachBody who promote and take in revenue for both workout videos.

But how does BeachBody make a profit from doing this? Research shows that P90X has made BeachBody over $200 million dollars and Insanity has made them over $350 million dollars. But how when they are competing against each other? The answer lies in novelty and people’s innate ability to put things off until later. According to surveys and studies, only 7- 10 percent of people who buy P90X will finish it but only 3.8 percent of people will return the DVDs for a refund. People say to themselves that they will come back to the workouts later but they never do or they will move onto a newer product that may be a better fit for them or just another reason to not ever do P90X again. This is where Insanity comes in. People buy Insanity after P90X and again they fall into old habits and slowly take it out of their lives but they don’t return it thinking they can finish it later.

Novelty has a huge influence on whether people buy a product or not. They want something that is new and trending. One good examples is the Shakeweight. Shakeweight sold over 2 million weights grossing $40 million dollars for something that burns as many calories as walking 3 mph for a couple of minutes.  The infomercials to sell the videos were called “slightly pornographic” but became an internet hit boosting the sales of the product.


However, the sales from infomercials for workout videos like P90X have gone down. Why? The newest craze on the workout scene, streaming workouts. Instead of working out to the same video daily and paying one large sum up front, now you can workout for a low price of $12.99 a month and have a variety of videos to choose from, with new content being uploaded everyday. Sites like this make us wonder if this is the end of the push model of advertising that is infomercials- well at least for workout videos. The newest and biggest proponent of streaming workouts- you guessed it, BeachBody.

-Steven Kaufman

The inner influence of animation

Animation, as an unique type of media, influences human beings in many aspects such as personalities, cognitive and emotional development, and many other perspectives of mental health. Nowadays, our lives are filled with many different kinds of animations, such as western animation which can be presented by Disney, and Japanese animation. These two typical types of animations play an important role in forming the basic personalities and emotional health of children even many adults. Because of the prevalence of animation, many new third industries start to appear as a result of cross-promotion, cross-production and across-advertising.

Disney, one of the biggest animation company in the world, accompanies with the growth of 80% of children in US. Which now covers many areas including movies, TV shows, theme park, toys and books. By reading this post, we know that what roles Disney animations play among children. For example, Snow White, Ariel, Belle and Cinderella are all the princess of Disney animation. No one would deny that these princesses have strong influence on girls at very young age. Princess, the symbol of graceful, gorgeous, good mannered, has all the good qualities of human beings and admired by most of girls in the world. In every young girl’s dream, being a princess must be the first place. Under this condition, animation subconsciously influence young girls in their mental health, in order to be a better person. What’s more, animation can also strengthen communications between kids. Because they all have the same interests and watch the same animation, they must have better communication with each other which will benefit their mental health.

Anime, also called Japanese animation, is now become one of primary source of entertainment. Japanese animation is a new form of animation which is aimed for all age people because it includes both children elements and some realistic social factors. Excellent anime always can express their emotions to audience and these emotions sometimes can affect the believes of audience in a large sense. For example, City of Sky, as a well-known Miyazaki movie, influence generations of people in Japan. In this anime movie, it describes a city in the sky which represent the dream of human and also express the most beautiful and naive emotion between two main characters. It is this feeling of human and the hope of people that have positive influence on no matter kids and adults. Which is good for our mental health. we can see these advantages in this post. Furthermore, for the development of anime, there are also many new anime companies emerge, and grow by vertical integration which includes writing script, finding actors to dub and making the whole anime.

However, as long as something has advantages, it must have disadvantages too. According to this post, watching animation can be addicted to some children. They spend much time on watching animation even don’t study and do the homework. What’s more, Japanese animation have more serious effects on people. Because it contains some dreams and unrealistic hopes, these factors will cause people escape from the reality.

By Ruitao Zhang



The Future of Relationships or the future of Sexually Transmitted Diseases: How Dating Apps are Increasing STI rates in America


More and more millennials are using dating apps such as Tinder, Grindr, and Scruff to engage in casual sexual intercourse. According to tinder’s marketing department the app has: 50 million users, gets a billion “swipes” a day, creates 12 million matches, and users on average spend about 90 minutes per day looking for a match. Although dating apps like tinder have made it easier for people to “hook-up”, there also has been an exponential spike in recent years of STIs in key demographics of tinder users- i.e. millennials, who make up 79% of all tinder users.

Tinder launched in 2012, and it became the most popular dating website used in 2014. The app revolutionized dating. It combined the appeal of social media, with the convenience of modern technology to create a product based on easily obtaining sex. The company created a niche audience- millennials- who have: buying power, and increasingly more access to smart phones to download their app (which creates revenue for Tinder). Now, Tinder offers a paid subscription service, and has 1 million paying customers.  If a user pays’ $5 a month, they can swipe as often as they like (a new form of push advertisement). They also have celebrities users (like Hillary Duff, Chelsea Handler, and Amy Schumer) who have increased the appeal, and usage of the app. They have earned media (unpaid) on Instagram, Snapchat, and celebrity users to gain more and more popularity among the key advertiser desired demographic- millennials. The app, as a form of digital media, is also normalizing “casual sex” in society with a lot of interesting consequences.


Tinder and other dating apps are marketed to young people. According to the CDC, 15-24 year olds are most likely to engage in risky behaviors- including sexual behavior. The Rhode Island Department of Health, during 2013-2014 the height of dating app usage, saw that in their state there was: a 79% spike in cases of Syphilis, a 33% increase in HIV cases, and a 30% increase in Gonorrhea. An article written by the Independent news paper discusses the aforementioned increases in STIs. Although there is an argument for a correlation between higher STI rates and increase use of dating apps, that does not mean dating apps are the cause. The article is trying to claim correlation as causation, which just is not true. There a number of other factors that could have affected the increase of STI rates: increased access to healthcare, decreased use of contraceptives that protect against STI’s, or more people going and getting tested for STI’s.

There is a new trend of Tinder weddings that is taking social media by storm. Matches made on the dating app are now resulting in marriages. The marketing department of the app is keen on the idea of couples who are now in committed relationships discussing their journey from a “hook-up” to holy matrimony. The new effort is to make the users and the app itself seem less shallow but isn’t that what the whole swiping left or right process is- a bit superficial.

-By Bushra Raza

Revolutionizing Fitness

America has always been stereotyped as being the most fat or obese country.  Americans are constantly busy with obligations and have little time to attribute to other important activities in health.  In turn, fast food industries reign supreme over the average American diet.  But how can we combat this? Americans hardly have enough time to eat healthfully let alone set aside time for physical activity.  However, within the past several years, fitness trackers have emerged as one of the most popular fitness apparatus of its time.

Fitness trackers use accurate measurements of physical activity along with setting micro goals to motivate users and encourage them to move around more.  However, one of the more revolutionizing aspects of these fitness trackers are their use of social media and community.  Fitness trackers such as Fitbit take advantage of social media’s influence on our daily lives.  Fitbit allows you to connect with your social media accounts and share your activity, goals, and achievements with your friends and family.  A CNN tech article highlights a perfect example of friendly competition between two men who have only met over the internet.  This article explains that biker Leon Shaner and his online friend rode their bikes at the same time and exchanged words of motivation and encouragement.  They also shared fitness stats from their fitness trackers and tried to beat each other’s distances.  Shaner exclaimed that he rode twice the distance than what he would have because of the motivation from his online friend.

Fitness trackers not only inspire and push small groups of people, but have an impact on entire universitiesup-for-groups-fitness-tracker-jawbone-psfk-964x644, work places, and communities.  A global cloud-consultancy firm known as Appirio, saw fitness trackers as an opportunity to promote physical activity and healthiness to its employees.  In this article, Appirio gave 250 of its employees as well as 300 participants received fitness wristbands to track their physical performances.  These individuals were able to share progress and fitness stats, as well as relay each other tips and healthful cooking recipes.

Fitness trackers have brought the world a new breed of motivation.  By combining human’s natural tendencies of competition with the prevalence of social media worldwide, individuals are more enthused than ever to exercise.  What new forms of motivation does the power of social media possess for fitness in the future?

– By Justin Smick

Why Do People Vaccine-hate?

The recent trend of parents making the decision to not get their children vaccinated is a puzzling phenomenon that has shown the have harmful consequences. Although there is ample evidence showing that vaccines have been historically and scientifically proven to be effective, there is a small, but significant amount of parents who believe that vaccines are actually harmful in some way. So where are they getting such notions, and what are the repercussions?

Many of those opposed to getting their children vaccinated are simply believing in misinformation and myths about vaccines, such as vaccines causing autism, or that the immune system will somehow be compromised due to these vaccines. As this article by Time explains, vaccination rates need to reach a certain threshold to maintain herd immunity, and this rate is going down, causing recent polio and measles outbreaks. What is especially frustrating is that, as Time mentions, these rates are more prevalent in areas of the country where people tend to be more affluent, educated, and liberal. The refusal to vaccinate does not seem to come from a pure lack of resources or other influences, but rather the impression that these people think they know better than what is unanimously agreed upon in medical discourse.

As the LA Times duly notes, the reason why 145 people ended up getting measles (which was ironically spread initially at the Happiest Place on Earth) was because of the large number of parents who refused to get their kids vaccinated. This outbreak is an example of how important sustaining herd immunity is, and falling below the necessary vaccination rate literally puts the entire population of humans at risk.

If the scope of the manifestation of the anti-vaccination movement is not convincing enough, perhaps a more personal take could drive people away from this ridiculously disastrous fallacy. This article by NPR covers a story of a father whose 6 year old son, Rhett, fought leukemia since around age two. Although he is now in remission, he is now in danger of measles, because he cannot be vaccinated due to his recovering immune system. Therein lies the importance of herd immunity – unfortunately, the Krawitt family lives in an area that allows and has the highest rate of “personal belief exemptions,” meaning that parents can legally send their children to school without vaccinations. Carl has unsuccessfully tried to get Rhett’s school district to require immunizations for all those who are able to be medically vaccinated to decrease the high likelihood of an outbreak, which would be a lethal consequence for his son.

The Krawitts should not have to deal with this conflict. Parents can opt out of vaccinating their kids for “personal beliefs” (empirically unfounded ones) and reap the advantage from collective protection, while families like the Krawitts have to deal with the literal risk of death, which is insanely unnecessary and can be so easily avoided.

We can protect children such as Rhett by being concerned, contributing members of society and protecting our most vulnerable – by getting ourselves and our children vaccinated.

The media’s portrayal on health: A movie perspective

Movies have got quite an insightful influence on the psychosocial development of the young generation. Irrespective of the type or source of the film, their negative and positive effects cannot be understated. It generates a wish that age-appropriate movies fall within reach to regulate their effects on the viewers.

The diversity in the types of movies produced different stimulates to different people. The motivation comes from mixed sources from which individuals can access their favorite ones. The unlimited restrictions from various internet sites enable faster downloading of movies upon their online release and with fewer hustles provided a good internet connection exists. Along with it are the varied online watching sources, such as Youtube, Hulu, from which people can just view the trending films even without downloading. However, the drive to see these pictorial films emanates from the motivation to fulfill certain personal satisfactions. At times the transmission of ideas while watching coupled with the emotional liberation may suppress feelings and allow one to relax their body.

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Following an article in the Chicago Tribune, the laughter elicited from comedies helps lower anxiety and reduce nervous tension. Similar studies also sensitize on paying attention to entertaining films when emotionally challenged and about to decide on important issues surrounding their welfare. It makes sense that when an individual laughs over a joke they tend to forget a rather disturbing matter and provide room for healthy alternative ideas on solving their problems. Simultaneously, following an article in University of Maryland medical center, they studied on how funny and disturbing movies effect of emotions on blood vessels. Undoubtedly, the result also showing that funny movie does helps blood vessels function better, and disturbing move does conversely.


Furthermore, as a example of niche media production, a situation where media product is purely targeted towards a specific audience segment rather than aiminMV5BMTQzNDAzNzgyMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTkyMzMzNg@@._V1_CR0,25,266,150_AL_UX477_CR0,0,477,268_AL_g at a mass audience, the target audience of horror films is mostly characterized by daring characters such as ardent skydivers, extreme mountain climbers. The majority of these people get pleasure from intense moments and tend to enjoy what normal people deem as dangerous undertakings. It thus becomes strange, seeing a category of persons relishing bloody images.

However, the positivity of comedic videos is the boosting of the immune system and vasodilation which eventually reduces the blood pressure. Additionally, such pleasantries reduce anger and fright that would have otherwise been improbable in the first instance. On the contrary, horrific scenes don’t augur well with people that possess unpleasant recollections in their lives. They would lead to hypertension, chest pains, etc. However, the expanded option of observing the flicks has an underlying setback such as light-headedness, nausea and motion sickness. It is therefore not advisable to keep on watching them in the event of headaches or sickness.

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All in all, avoiding movies is not a solution to preventing health complications. Of much importance is watching the right movie at a right time.

BY Qing li