Surprise, surprise – all those ads on food are encouraging kids to eat, with new research yet again confirming that unhealthy food is the devil when it comes to the youngin’s.
University of Liverpool health expert Dr Emma Boyland has given parents further ammo to complain about ads for junk food, with the study showing ads for Maccas loaded fries or Hungry Jacks’ burgers not only steers kids into stores, it gets them eating more.
“Through our analysis of these published studies I have shown that food advertising doesn’t just affect brand preference – it drives consumption,” Boyland said.
“Given that almost all children in Westernised societies are exposed to large amounts of unhealthy food advertising on a daily basis this is a real concern.”
Researchers led by Boyland reviewed and analysed 22 separate studies that had examined the impact of acute, experimental unhealthy food advertising exposure on food consumption. The studies exposed children and adults to unhealthy food advertising on both the TV and Internet, then measured how much they ate and compared this to the amount people ate without food advertising.
The analysis showed that unhealthy food advertising exposure significantly increased food consumption in children, but not adults, with the telly and interwebs both equally impactful.
“Small, but cumulative increases in energy intake have resulted in the current global childhood obesity epidemic and food marketing plays a critical role in this. We have also shown that the effects are not confined to TV advertising; online marketing by food and beverage brands is now well established and has a similar impact,” Boyland added.
“On the basis of these findings, recommendations for enacting environmental strategies and policy options to reduce children’s exposure to food advertising are evidence-based and warranted.”