The study, led by dietitian and public health expert Dr Bridget Kelly (pictured above), aimed to quantify the impact of children’s exposure to television food advertising on dietary patterns, as part of a larger survey on responses to food branding.
Dr Kelly and her team surveyed more than 400 Australian children aged 10-16 to assess television viewing habits and consumption of 12 frequently advertised unhealthy foods and drinks, such as fast food, sugary drinks and confectionery.
“The link between television viewing and poor diet was strongest for children who watched the most commercial television, and those who were actually exposed to advertisements embedded within programs,” Dr Kelly, from UOW’s Early Start Research Institute said.
Supporting this, Dr Kelly and her team also found that children who skipped the ads on commercial television had better diets than those who were bombarded with ‘junk food’ advertising.
The results will be published in the next issue of the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity.
Earlier research by Dr Kelly found that Australian children are exposed to six food advertisements per hour, more than half of which are for unhealthy products.
Dr Kelly said public policy intervention is required to curb children’s exposure to these harmful advertisements.
“This study clearly shows that watching food ads on television is bad for children’s diets. It’s time for Government to ‘pull the plug’ on this type of advertising and take action to limit children’s exposures.”
University of Wollongong.