Junk Food Ads Cause Kids to Eat a Lot More
It’s a startling fact -- the average American child sees more than 40,000 commercials each year. Now a team of researchers from the University of Liverpool contends that all that exposure may be contributing to the country's growing childhood obesity problem.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that food advertisements don't just influence what brands people choose, but also how much they eat.
The researchers looked at more than 22 studies designed to examine the link between unhealthy food ads and food consumption. Participants were both children and adults. They measured the food consumption of those who were exposed to ads through the television or internet, and compared them to the food consumption of those who weren’t exposed to such ads.
Children exposed to unhealthy food advertisements showed a significant increase in their food consumption. When researchers looked at whether television ads had a greater effect than internet ads, they found no difference.
Unhealthy food ads did not have the same impact on adults.
A different study, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, found that if a child watched more than one hour of television a day, he or she was 39 percent more likely to become overweight and 86 percent more likely to become obese by first grade.
Childhood obesity rates in America have more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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