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Kids and the Parents Who Buy for Them

The Consumers International World Congress is, for the first time, giving out Bad Product Awards to companies deemed most irresponsible towards children. This year’s “winners”:

Mattel – for manufacturing toys covered with lead paint from its plants in China.

Coca-Cola – for unabashedly marketing Dasani, which is packaged tap water.

Kellogg Company – for selling junk food, particularly its sugary kids’ cereals with advertising targeted to kids.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. – for pitching sleeping pills to kids, including taking out an ad on our airwaves, using school buses, pictures of chalk boards, and the like to remind users, “It’s back to school season, time to reorder your sleeping pills.”

I’m all for striking out at corporations, but how about awards for bad parents? We may not be aware a toy company is using toxic paint, but we surely know Frosted Flakes and sleeping pills aren’t good for kids. A message I conveyed to my son was, “We have to limit junk food, so make sure if you’re eating something unhealthy, it’s worth it.” That got him to pass up Devil Dogs in favor of freshly made chocolate cake, not broccoli but preservative-free and contains food, rather than just chemicals. The same rationale encouraged him to pass up hot dogs and hold out for foie gras.

It was a costly trade-off and required an explanation some may think quirky, but every family has its peculiarities. Bottom line was it worked. Nicky developed no fat or cavities, no diabetes or eating disorder. We studied ingredients on labels for nutritional value and fat content. Though we’d never articulated it, my husband and I were in agreement that our son would eat partially hydrogenated oil only over our dead bodies. When Martin spotted me putting a tin of chocolate pudding into a plastic bin, he spit out, “That has partially hydrogenated oil!!!”

We were living in Los Angeles. “I’m assembling the emergency earthquake kit requested by the school. If Nicky’s eating this, it’s because we’re dead,” I explained.

Sure, it’s tempting to pop Pop Tarts into kids, indulge their whims, cave when they have tantrums and, if all else fails, bribe them. But there would be no need for Bad Organization Awards if parents would do their part.

Does anyone know if the sleeping pills are for the kids, or the parents?

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