Everyday we are bombarded by all sorts of ads on TV. Those ads, namely the ones for food, greatly influence our habits. Indeed, according to a recently published study, children exposed to certain food-related ads are more likely to eat the same products shown in the ads, whether healthy or not.
Many studies have already shown that the cereals that children usually eat at breakfast contain far too many sugars. A child who is used to eating every morning an American brand cereal bowl would eat the equivalent of 4.5 kilos of sugar a year. But where are these bad eating habits coming from?
According to a US study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine last December, advertising would have a central role in the adoption of these morning routines.
Professor Jennifer Emond, a member of the cancer control research program at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center who conducted the study, notes that many young children have a poor diet: they consume too little fruit and vegetables, and too much sugar, salt and fat. These eating habits can lead to obesity and are a known risk factor for 13 cancers, recalls the report of the study. Advertising would be largely responsible for this situation: “The brands specifically target children in their advertising knowing that children will ask for these products from their parents,” says the researcher.
To arrive at these conclusions, the professor studied the exposure of children to television commercials intended for them. For this, her team bought an advertising database and counted all the announcements on cereals broadcast by children’s television channels. Parents were then interviewed for a year about the programs their kids watched, and the cereals they ate during that time.
The scientists found that children exposed to television commercials for high-sugar cereals, aired during their favorite programs, were more likely to eat these products later. “The marketing of high-sugar foods prevents parents from adapting their eating habits to healthy habits,” concludes Jennifer Emond. “Measures could be implemented to reduce exposure to food marketing and improve the quality of food for children. “