Where in your house do you eat? Perhaps at the family dinner table, or on the back patio in nice weather? Maybe you have a place in the living room where the family enjoys a TV show together?
If you are watching TV while eating, you may want to pay special attention to what types of ads your children are seeing. A new study appearing in the December 2016 issue of Pediatrics, followed up by this review from healthychildren.org, concludes that TV programming with food ads can affect your young child’s eating habits.
Here’s how the study went down:
“Researchers gave children a filling snack before asking them to watch a 14-minute children’s program. During the program, children were provided free access to snacks. One group of children viewed programming with food advertisements embedded. The other group viewed programming with advertisements for a department store and no food advertisements. The group that viewed the programming with food ads ate more snacks foods during viewing than the non-food advertisement group.” – healthychildren.org
The first step at home might be to observe your child’s programming, followed by observing your child’s behavior. Do they seem to be influenced by ads with food? If so, consider changing programming or having a discussion about healthy foods with your child every time you see an ad for junk food.
NPR writer Eliza Barclay also cites research linking food ads with overeating in young children. In “Scientists Are Building A Case For How Food Ads Make Us Overeat“, scientist Heby Kober says this about food ads in front of children, “[Those ads] lead them to ask [for] and want to eat those foods, and that’s something we need to think about really seriously.”
Whatever your habits at home, consider taking time to observe if TV programming and food ads affects your own family’s eating habits. You never know what you might discover!
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