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Children Exposed to Unhealthy Foods Ads More Likely to Have Poor Diet, Study shows

Jul 06, 2016 07:21 AM EDT
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A new study revealed that children exposed to ads for unhealthy food containing lost of sugar and salt were more likely to develop poor and harmful diet.

The study, published in the journal Obesity Reviews, suggests that marketing ads of unhealthy food and beverages can affect the dietary preferences and increase dietary intake of children during or shortly after being exposed to this advertisement.

"The increasing prevalence of obesity seems to further coincide with marked increases in the food and beverage industry's budget for marketing aimed at children and youth, with data showing that energy-dense, low-nutrient foods and beverages make up the majority of commercially marketed products," explained corresponding study author Bradley Johnston, an assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster and director of SORT (Systematic Overviews through advancing Research Technology) at The Hospital for Sick Children, in a statement.

For the study, researchers analyzed 29 trials involving more than 6,000 children. These trials assess the effect of unhealthy food and beverages exposure to caloric intake and dietary preferences of children. Researchers looked into advertising done through television and movie commercials, videogames, use of branded logos, packaging with licensed characters and booklet/magazine ads.

The researchers then discovered that children who were exposed to unhealthy food ads consumed significantly more unhealthy calories. Additionally, the researchers found out that children aging eight years and below are more prone to the impact of food and beverage marketing in terms of quantity and quality of calories consumed.

Due to their findings, researchers hypothesize that younger children are more susceptible to unhealthy food and beverages commercial because children may associate the marketed products with the positive features of the commercial, which in turn makes them to subsequently imitate what they saw.

According to the study, children are being exposed to an average of five food advertisements per hour. Also, unhealthy food and beverages commercial account for more than 80 percent of all televised food advertisements in Canada, United States and Germany.

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