Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Junk Food Advertising on TV

Jane Brody’s Person Health column in yesterday’s New York Times discussed the relationship between children’s television viewing and their eating habits.

Would kids be screaming for a junk food item if they didn’t see it pitched on TV? Granted, sensitive parenting issues are at play here (i.e. allowing kids to watch television, saying “no” to junk food requests), but the numbers are thought-provoking. According to Brody,

"In a study released in March 2007, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation noted that children ages 2 to 7 see an average of 12 televised food ads a day, or 4,400 a year, and children 8 to 12 see an average of 21 a day—more than 7,600 a year. For teenagers, the numbers are 17 a day, or more than 6,000 a year. Fully half of all ad time on children’s shows is for food, the foundation reported."
The result?
"[S]everal studies have demonstrated that television ads do indeed have an effect—and not a good effect—on what children eat, and how much. In one study of 548 students at five public schools near Boston, published in 2006 in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, researchers found that for each additional hour of television viewing, the children consumed an additional 167 calories, especially the calorie-dense, low-nutrient foods frequently advertised on television."
Click here to read Brody’s full article, which also indicts brand placement in movies.

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