Ad Campaigns Help Get Kids Active

Media spots moved youngsters toward healthy exercise, CDC team say

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FRIDAY, Dec. 29, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Advertising can help kids get off the couch and be more physically active, say researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They evaluated the impact of the first two years of the CDC's national youth media campaign VERB: It's what you do, designed to persuade children ages 9 to 13 to get more exercise.

The campaign -- which featured television, radio and print ads, along with Internet-, school- and community-based programs -- ran from 2002 to 2006 and reached 17 million U.S. children.

The campaign was effective, according to the study that appears in the January issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"The bottom line is, children who saw the VERB campaign were more physically active than those who didn't see it. We were 'selling' physical activity as a product and lots of kids 'bought' (it)," study co-author Marian Huhman said in a prepared statement.

To assess the effect of the VERB campaign, Huhman and her colleagues surveyed more than 3,000 parent-child pairs at the start of the campaign and again two years later.

The more campaign messages the children saw, the more physical activity they reported. Their views about physical activity also became more positive, the study found.

The cost for the first two years of the program was $194 million, which is money well-spent, according to Huhman.

"If you look at the cost per child related to the campaign versus the cost of obesity-related illnesses, we think it's a very good investment," she said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and exercise.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Dec. 28, 2006

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