Junk food ads lead to overeating and weight gain in children—23 April 2018

Children eat more food after watching unhealthy food advertising and don’t compensate by eating less at later meals, a world-first study by University of Wollongong (UOW) researchers supported by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project grant has found.

On average, the daily food intake of children in the study increased by almost 50 calories after watching food advertising; an amount that over time would lead them to becoming overweight.

The study involved 160 children between the ages of 7 and 12, and took place over 6 days at a school holiday camp. On three of the days the children watched food advertising—a television cartoon and, for some children, an online game as well. On the other three days, they watched non-food advertising.

The researchers measured the children’s food intake at a snack soon after watching advertising as well as at a later meal. On food advertising days the children left camp with an average positive energy imbalance of almost 50 calories. Previous studies have shown that an energy imbalance of between 50 and 70 calories is enough to drive unhealthy weight gain in children.

Researchers say that the study, which is published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, showed the need for increased regulation of food marketing to children.

Media issued by the University of Wollongong.


Image: researchers say that the study showed the need for increased regulation of food marketing to children.
Source: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Original Published Date: 
Monday, April 23, 2018