TV Food Ads Lead to Weight Gain in Kids: Study

Prompted a 134 percent increase in amount of food eaten by obese children

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TUESDAY, April 24, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Television food ads prompted a 134 percent increase in the amount of food eaten by obese children, says a study by British researchers.

The study of 60 children, ages 9 to 11, also found that overweight children ate 101 percent more, and normal weight children ate 84 percent more, after they were shown a series of TV food and toy ads, followed by a cartoon.

A child's weight seemed to influence what they ate. The children in the study were provided with different kinds of foods, and the obese children consistently chose the highest fat item -- chocolate. Overweight children preferred jelly sweets, as well as chocolate.

"Our research confirms food TV advertising has a profound effect on all children's eating habits -- doubling their consumption rate. The study was also particularly interesting in suggesting a strong connection between weight and susceptibility to over-eating when exposed to food adverts on television," Dr. Jason Halford, director of the Kissileff Human Ingestive Behaviour Laboratory at the University of Liverpool, said in a prepared statement.

The study was presented this week at the European Congress on Obesity in Budapest.

The researchers plan further studies to investigate whether increased responsiveness to TV food ads or large amounts of TV viewing can predict childhood obesity.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases offers advice about healthy eating habits and physical activity for children.

SOURCE: University of Liverpool, news release, April 24, 2007

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