Children are exposed to up to 2800 junk food ads every year on their way to and from school, according to Cancer Council NSW and University of Wollongong research.
A world first study with Aussie kids has shown kids ate an extra 194 kilojoules of snacks after watching junk food ads. The study checked their lunch intake too and found that they didn’t compensate for those extra kilojoules. An extra intake of about 200kJ is likely to lead to weight gain over time.
The study, published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, involved 160 7-12 year olds. Over six days the children were exposed to food advertising – through either a television cartoon, an online game or both and non-food advertising. The researchers measured the children’s food intake at a snack soon after watching advertising as well as at a later meal.
The study looked at exposure to advergames, a space that isn’t regulated in Australia and TV, where there is limited regulation. Advertising is all around, not only on TV and online but on billboards and public transport so the effect of exposure to multimedia campaigns is likely to be even more.
The authors conclude that to protect kids we need better regulation of food marketing to children, particularly on TV up until 9pm and online.