A gigantic hamburger served with tater tots.
Teach children balance, parents. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Marshall Astor/Flickr)

Childhood obesity is a serious issue. It is a parent’s responsibility to model and teach children responsible behavior when it comes to moderate consumption of a balanced diet. Yet there is little that is moderate or balanced about the recent television PSA created by Precinct Studios to educate Americans about child obesity. Precinct’s “heroin hamburger ad” compares a mother feeding her child fast food to introducing him to dangerous drug use.

What the heroin hamburger ad gets right

The shock-tactic heroin hamburger ad may be startling, but some of the science behind isn’t too far off base, suggests Inhabitots. According to FoodNavigator.com, there are similar patterns in brain chemistry between those who overeat and those with drug addiction. Eating high-fat, high-calorie, sugary food has been linked to promote dopamine production in the brain, which can lead to overeating and unbalanced food choices.

Yet the heroin hamburger ad is another Unhappy Meal

One viewing of the heroin hamburger ad is all it takes to see scare tactics at work. Subjects are somber, lighting is moody and the music is ominous. That’s exactly what PETA did with their McDonald’s “Unhappy Meal” campaign. The blood, pictures of maimed animals and sinister, knife-wielding Ronald McDonalds are targeted at children. As PETA spokeswoman said of the campaign, “I think you’d have to drag kids into McDonald’s kicking and screaming,” such is their nightmare-inducing power.

Machiavelli wasn’t giving parenting advice

In his political treatise “The Prince,” Machiavelli writes that “Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.” That fits the world of cutthroat politics, but not parenting. The heroin hamburger ad doesn’t subtly suggest moderation, it demands that children be afraid of fast food. The Journal of Trauma & Dissociation makes a clear connection between disturbing images viewed on television and how children experience fear.

Fear and loving respect are two very different things. Reasonable parents should know the difference. Teach to make balanced food choices out of love, not fear. Even Cookie Monster knows that sweets are a “sometimes food.” Hamburger as a sometimes food will hardly condemn children to a life of obesity – or being strung out on a street corner, as Precinct would have sheeple believe. Scaring children into compliance is the way of a despot.


FoodNavigator.com http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Food-addiction-Fat-may-rewire-brain-like-hard-drugs

Inhabitots http://www.inhabitots.com/2010/10/04/new-psa-likens-hamburgers-to-heroin-what-do-you-think/
Journal of Trauma & Dissociation http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/CV102.pdf

Sodahead http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/has-peta-gone-too-far-peta-unhappy-meals-targeting-kids/question-553707/

The hamburger heroin ad kids – and sheeple parents – shouldn’t see


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