RSI’s Transportation Insights

How Food Advertisements Affect Kids

Posted by Karen Thomas on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 @ 08:58 PM

Food advertising “Healthy” food can feel like a necessary evil at times. More often than not we're exposed to food advertisements that are more value-based than nutrition based. We're conditioned to look at images of food (or at least we're lead to believe we're looking at images of real food) that are not only appetizing but react with intrinsic chemical reactions. Most of us don't think twice about the impact an advertisement showing three cheeseburgers for the low, low price of a $1.99 has on our eating habits but that may be because we've been exposed to the same or similar ads for a long, long time.

Kids – Weight – and Advertising

The American Psychological Association (APA) states obesity in children increases the more hours they watch television. According to the “Children’s exposure to TV ads for unhealthy food products (i.e., high-calorie, low-nutrient snacks, fast foods, and sweetened drinks) are a significant risk factor for obesity.

In very young children, research has found that for every one-hour increase in TV viewing per day, there are higher intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages, fast food, red and processed meat, and overall calories (48.7 kcal/day). E xcess weight can be gained by the addition of only 150 calories a day.

Other research has found that children who watch more than three hours of television a day are 50 per cent more likely to be obese than children who watch fewer than two hours.

Food and beverage advertising targeted at children influences their product preferences, requests, and diet.

The food and beverage industry has resolved to self-regulate their marketing to children, but this has not resulted in significant improvement in the marketing of healthier food (i.e., fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or non-fat milk or dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, and beans) to children. Almost three out of every four foods advertised to children falls into the unhealthy categories that contribute to the obesity epidemic.

Food ads on television make up 50% of all the ad time on children’s shows. These ads are almost completely dominated by unhealthy food products (34% for candy and snacks, 28% for cereal, 10% for fast food, 4% for dairy products, 1% for fruit juices, and 0% for fruits or vegetables). Children are rarely exposed to public service announcements or advertising for healthier foods.”


Healthy Ads =Improved Health?

While the answer to the above question may not exist just yet, it's a fact healthy eating improves one's quality of life and even for youngsters. What's healthy eating associated with?

According to the government's Center for Disease Control, “Healthy eating is associated with reduced risk for many diseases, including several of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.

Healthy eating in childhood and adolescence is important for proper growth and development and can prevent health problems such as obesity, dental caries, iron deficiency, and osteoporosis.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat dairy products for persons aged 2 years and older. The guidelines also recommend that children, adolescents, and adults limit intake of solid fats (major sources of saturated and trans fatty acids), cholesterol, sodium, added sugars, and refined grains.3 Unfortunately, most young people are not following the recommendations set forth in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


Tags: Announcements, Industry