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Kids and Food Ads

June 5, 2007

Ads for junk foods cause kids to eat more.


The alarming success of some TV ads. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

On average, kids eat nearly twice as much after seeing junk food ads on TV, than they do after watching ads for non-food items. That’s the result of a new study at the University of Liverpool in England. Psychologist Jason Halford says the effect was strongest in overweight and obese children. Those kids not only increased their eating by higher percentages, but also gravitated more towards high-fat snacks after watching the food commercials.

JASON HALFORD (University of Liverpool):
And those brands were not advertised. Although the adverts were for branded foods, the foods we served them were not linked to the brand in any way. So it was a beyond-brand effect, if you see what I mean.

Halford notes that TV watching is directly related to childhood weight gain, and suggests the barrage of food ads may be partly responsible. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.