Kids eating habits wrecked by extra TV hours

Have you ever given the gourmet food ads on TV a thought? It’s time to pay attention to them people! A recent study shows that commercial TV viewing with the advertisements is related to the higher consumption of junk food.

Will the eating habits of our kids be spoiled after the extra minutes of TV watching? It may be true, say the researchers at the University of Michigan. They conducted a study and compared the media recordings sans food advertisements and commercial TV watching by the kids.
They found out that commercial TV viewing is strongly linked to consumption of junk food.

The research study

Mericarmen Peralta and Kristen Harrison from the University of Michigan interviewed more than 100 parents and inquired about different characteristics of family and the home life. They focused on the children’s dietary intake and exposure of the child and the parent to media. Individual interviews were administered to preschoolers with questions regarding a healthy meal. The researchers then formed associations between the dietary intake, family characteristics and perceptions of healthy food.

Harrison found out a link between junk food and media after keeping food security as a marker. The link between the media and food was almost zero in the people with food insecurities i.e. people with limited income and strong among the food secure group i.e. people with good income.

Study results

The child from a food secure family had distorted views regarding healthy foods. The food insecure people had a limited income that probably set a limit on their junk food consumption. The food secure people could indulge in different foods probably because they had the capability of giving in to their food cravings and could easily afford them after watching them advertised on the media.

Lots of researches have been done in the past regarding media and television but has mostly been on obesity in childhood. This study is on preschoolers and also compares the digitally recorded television viewing with commercial TV viewing.

The study gives an idea about the preschoolers take on healthy meals. As Harrison states “Even though parents and other caregivers are the primary gatekeepers regarding young children’s food intake, children are still learning about food as it relates to health from family, media, and other sources, and may use this knowledge later on to inform their decisions when parents or other adults aren’t there to supervise them.”

Recognizing preschool knowledge crucially important for children, Harrison stated “The preschool years are especially important, because the adiposity rebound in kids who grow up to be normal weight tends to be around age 5 or 6, whereas for kids to grow up to be obese, it happens closer to 3. We need to know as much as we can about the factors that encourage obesogenic eating during the preschool years, even if that eating doesn’t manifest as obesity until the child is older.”

The findings will be presented at the 63rd Annual International Communication Association conference in London..