The World Health Organization observes that food advertising, along with other advertisement forms, influences the food preferences of children, their purchasing behavior, and more seriously, their dietary behavior. To understand how food ads affect your diet and eating habits, let’s take a look at recent research that explains how food ads affect your diet. Moreover, it elaborates on the link between childhood obesity and food advertisement.
A recent study that was carried out to determine the link between low-nutrient and calorie-dense food advertisements and obesity provided interesting results. The results suggested that children, when subjected to food advertising, eat 45 percent more. Similarly, adults exposed to snack-food advertising consumed more of both the unhealthy and healthy snacks. Another study suggested that adults who had been exposed to food advertising selected 28 percent more of the unhealthy snacks as compared to those who were exposed to non-food advertising.
Food Advertisements and Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity is on the rise in the U.S., with the rate having tripled over the last 25 years. Obesity seems to be spreading as an epidemic, especially in the younger section of society, as according to the estimates, about 20 percent of the youth in the U.S. are overweight. Similarly, obesity in preschool age children is also on the rise, as statistics show obesity in children among the age group of 2 to 5 years has more than doubled. Obesity has become more prevalent among children in the age group of 6 to 11 years as well. Teenagers seem to be the most affected group, as estimates suggest that obesity has tripled among teens.
Research suggests one of the most effective ways of preventing obesity is to start at a young age. Children between the ages of 8 and 18 are known to spend most of their time in front of multiple types of media, including game screens, TVs, and computers.
There is also a link between childhood obesity and increase in the rate of advertisement for non-nutritious food. It suggests that most children who are under the age of six are not able to distinguish between advertising and programming. Similarly, children who are younger than eight years old are not able to comprehend the persuasive intent that lies at the heart of advertising.
The research therefore suggests that advertisements targeting children in this age group can be deemed exploitative in nature, as children have the extraordinary ability to recall the advertisement content they have viewed.
Moreover, this suggests that product preference in children is known to occur right from the exposure to a single commercial and only strengthens with repeated exposure. Studies strongly suggest that children who watch unhealthy food advertisements on television are more likely to have a preference for high-sugar and high-fat foods. It also suggested they are more likely to select unhealthy foods.
Advertisement, Food Preferences, and Food Consumption
Health experts are of the view that there is a global connection between factors like advertising and their impact on food preferences and food consumption. To make matters worse, it suggests that there appears to be more than just a brand effect that is causing a rise in selection of unhealthy foods—and not merely those that are shown in advertisements—among children.
These studies thus shed light on how food ads affect your diet and especially that of children. Moreover, these studies and their findings can help us understand the reasons behind the rise in obesity, including childhood obesity, and arrive at solutions to counter it.