Do kids convince parents to buy junk foods?

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • Mom, please buy me some chips!

    Mom, please get me that new cereal with the special mix ins!

    Mom, I want a hamburger, fries and a!

    Mom, I want to get that new super duper chewy snack I just saw on TV!


    This may be going on in your house on a regular basis.  Kids get bombarded with cartoons and celebrity images associated with the latest food, snack or drink.  Most of these items have little nutritional value, and pack a hefty dose of trans or saturated fat, salt, sugar and are loaded with unhealthy calories.  And your kids want, they demand them so much so, that researchers have acknowledged this "nag factor."  It's identified as the unrelenting request of children to have parents buy the very items they see non-stop on TV, in videos and in print ads.  Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have spent some time looking at this phenomenon.

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    The researchers conclude that there is indeed a huge push from advertisers that specifically targets the vulnerability of kids to believe terms like newest, best, amazing, super special and endorsed by their latest cartoon or celebrity of choice.  Mothers cited "characters, commercials on TV and packaging" as the three leading forces that inspire their kids to nag.  Researchers acknowledge  mothers as the primary gatekeepers of nutrition in the household.  Moms are the ones who mostly:

    • Control food purchases
    • Guide their kid's eating habits
    • Prepare foods
    • Receive the nagging

    The researchers also divided the nagging phenomenon into three specific categories: juvenile nagging; nagging to manipulate; nagging to test boundaries.  Mothers, they found, had ten strategies for dealing with nagging including: Yelling, giving in, distracting the child, staying calm and consistent, avoiding the commercial environment by controlling TV time, negotiating, setting rules, substituting other items, taking the time to explain how and why to make better choices.  The researchers also made note of the fact that manipulative nagging and overall nagging behaviors increase with age. 


    From a statistical standpoint, 36% of moms said they control TV time (thereby controlling commercial viewing time) and 35% said they take the time to explain to kids the reason why not to make the purchase.  Most agreed that giving in was the least effective and least preferred response to nagging.  So what's your approach to food purchase nagging? Are you able to employ some of the preferred options that the moms in this research use?  Are you too tired most of the time and simply give in?  Please share with us!!

Published On: September 29, 2011