Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Study finds that children are highly susceptible to TV ads for unhealthy foods and beverages

Television commercials for unhealthy foods and drinks have an immediate effect on youth, leading to poor diets and obesity, says a study by researchers at Ontario's McMaster University, published in Obesity Reviews. Researchers "examined 29 trials assessing the effects of unhealthy food and beverage marketing and analyzing caloric intake and dietary preference among more than 6000 children. Researchers found that the marketing increased dietary intake and influenced dietary preference in children during or shortly after exposure to advertisements."

Youth obesity rates—a major concern in rural areas—are on the rise, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a study released last month. Another study published last month, by NYU Langone Medical Center, found that most food and beverage products endorsed by popular musicians lead to childhood obesity.

The McMaster study found that "when children were exposed to unhealthy advertisements, they consumed significantly more unhealthy than healthy calories." The study, which said children are exposed to an average of five food advertisements per hour—more than 80 percent of all food ads in the U.S. are for unhealthy foods—found that children 8 and under "might be more susceptible to the impact of food and beverage marketing in terms of quantity and quality of calories consumed. Researchers hypothesize that younger children might be more vulnerable to the influence of advertisements and associate the marketed products with positive features of commercials and subsequently try to imitate the behaviors they see."

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