TV Ads Trigger Junk Food Cravings In Teens And Pre-Teens, Says Study

A report by Cancer Research UK has found a link between high exposure to TV ads and increased consumption of junk food by kids between ages 11 to 19.

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TV Ads Trigger Junk Food Cravings In Teens And Pre-Teens, Says Study

Highlights

  1. High junk food consumption linked to TV ads, in a new study.
  2. Teenagers watching more TV tend to crave more junk food.
  3. TV ads also make kids drink high sugar and fizzy drinks.
Childhood obesity is starting to be recognized as a serious malaise all over the world. A rise in junk food options and their easy availability in metro cities is one part of the problem. However, there might be other triggers too. A new study by the Cancer Research, UK, has blamed the rising junk food consumption on TV advertisements and marketing of fatty foods on commercial TV. The study that focuses on kids between the age of 11 and 19 or teenagers and pre-teens has revealed a strong link between junk food cravings and ads on TV.

In laymen's terms, the study says that being 'bombarded' with ads for unhealthy and high-calorie foods can make teenagers who watch a lot of TV eat more snacks like crisps, biscuits and sugary drinks, than those who watch lesser amount of TV. The research was conducted on 3,348 kids in the United Kingdom, who were questioned about their eating and TV viewing habits and the findings were published in the report. In cases where teens watched TV without the adverts, there was no link found between TV viewing time and consuming more junk food.

This suggested that it might be that these ads are driving youngsters to eat more junk. More concrete results from the study said that teens who regularly watched TV shows with ads in between them, were twice as likely to drink sugary and fizzy drinks than those who were lesser exposed to their adverts. The former were also 65 per cent more likely to eat instant meals than the latter. The study highlights the risk of higher consumption of junk food among teenagers in order to bring the focus on the increasing incidence of childhood obesity in the country.

Dr Jyotsna Vohra, a lead author on the study from Cancer Research UK said in a press release, "This is the strongest evidence yet that junk food adverts could increase how much teens choose to eat." She added, "We're not claiming that every teenager who watches commercial TV will gorge on junk food but this research suggests there is a strong association between advertisements and eating habits." The study calls for tighter rules and regulations around TV marketing of junk and high-calorie foods.

Another researcher Professor Linda Bauld said, "Obese children are five times more likely to remain obese as adults who can increase their risk of cancer later in life." Talking about the need for more regulations on junk food adverts, she said," The food industry will continue to push their products into the minds of teens if they're allowed to do so."



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