Home > Uncategorized > New Study Supports Food Advertisers’ Negative Role In Childhood Obesity Epidemic

New Study Supports Food Advertisers’ Negative Role In Childhood Obesity Epidemic


A new study, published online November 30 in the Journal of Pediatrics, finds obese children are more vulnerable to food advertisements they may see on television. This influence exacerbates the dangerous state of health that children in this weight range are already in.

“I think it raises the question, and it’s a difficult question, of how ethical is it to advertise unhealthy food products to children, especially when we see that obese children are potentially more vulnerable to this type of advertising,” study author Dr. Amanda Bruce, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The study was small, as researchers compared a group of 10 healthy weight children to 10 obese ones between the ages of 10 and 14. Scans of the children’s brains were taken with MRI machines while the chilgren were shown 60 food logos and 60 non-food logos. Food logos included popular brands like Pepsi, Cap’n Crunch and Cheerios, while non-food logos included the CBS Eye and Mercedes. The researchers wanted to measure the kids’ brain activity when viewing the ads.

Children were also surveyed before and after the study to gauge their hunger and self-control levels. Obese children experienced grater brain activation in the pleasure and reward centers of the brain while children with healthy weights experienced more brain activation in the self-control centers.

The study’s authors say companies spend more than $10 billion annually on food and beverage advertisements to children. 98% of the products that make their way to the television screen are high in fat, sugar, or sodium.fat-kid-300x209

U.S. childhood obesity rates have tripled over the past 30 years, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than one-third of all U.S. kids are overweight or obese, setting themselves up for health problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

In June, the Walt Disney Company announced it would ban all food and beverage products advertised, sponsored or promoted on the Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Radio Disney and other Disney-owned online destinations intended for children 12 and under that do not fit certain nutritional standards by 2015.

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