Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Childhood obesity: It's not the amount of TV, it's the number of junk food commercials

Date:
February 10, 2010
Source:
University of California - Los Angeles
Summary:
The association between television viewing and childhood obesity is directly related to children's exposure to commercials that advertise unhealthy foods, according to a new study.

The association between television viewing and childhood obesity is directly related to children's exposure to commercials that advertise unhealthy foods, according to a new UCLA School of Public Health study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study, conducted by Frederick J. Zimmerman and Janice F. Bell, is the first to break down the types of television children watch to better determine whether different kinds of content may exert different effects on obesity.

The researchers gathered data from primary caregivers of 3,563 children, ranging from infants to 12-year-olds, in 1997. Through time-use diaries, study respondents reported their children's activities, including television viewing, throughout the course of an entire weekday and an entire weekend day.

Caregivers were also asked to report the format -- television programs, DVDs or videos -- and the names of the programs watched. This data was used to classify television viewing into either educational or entertainment programming and to determine whether or not it contained advertising or product placement. A follow-up was conducted in 2002.

The analysis controlled for the amount of physical activity and the children's gender, age, race/ethnicity, mother's body mass index (BMI), education and sleep time.

Among all children, commercial viewing was significantly associated with higher BMI, although the effect was stronger for children younger than 7 than for those older than 7, the study found.

"The persistence of these results, even when the child's baseline weight status was controlled, suggests that the association between commercial television viewing and obesity does not arise solely or even primarily because heavier children prefer commercial television," said Zimmerman, professor and chair of health services at the School of Public Health and the lead author of the study.

Non-commercial viewing, including watching DVDs or educational television programming, had no significant association with obesity.

According to the authors, the findings strongly suggest that steering children away from commercial television may be effective in reducing childhood obesity, given that food is the most commonly advertised product on children's television and the fact that almost 90 percent of children begin watching television regularly before the age of 2.

By the time they are 5 years old, children have seen an average of more than 4,000 television commercials for food annually. During Saturday morning cartoons, children see an average of one food ad every five minutes. The vast majority of these ads -- up to 95 percent -- are for foods with poor nutritional value, the researchers say.

"Commercial television pushes children to eat a large quantity of those foods they should consume least: sugary cereals, snacks, fast food and soda pop," Zimmerman said.

The authors conclude that the availability of high-quality, enjoyable and educational programs for all ages on DVD should make it relatively easy for health educators and care providers to nudge children's viewing toward content that does not contain unhealthy messages about food and eating.

"Just as there are far better and more nutritious foods than those advertised on television, there are also far better and more interesting shows on television than those supported by advertising," Zimmerman said. "Educational television has come a long way since today's parents were children, and there are now many fantastic shows on commercial-free television and, of course, wonderful content available on DVD."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. The original article was written by Sarah Anderson. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Los Angeles. "Childhood obesity: It's not the amount of TV, it's the number of junk food commercials." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100209095753.htm>.
University of California - Los Angeles. (2010, February 10). Childhood obesity: It's not the amount of TV, it's the number of junk food commercials. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100209095753.htm
University of California - Los Angeles. "Childhood obesity: It's not the amount of TV, it's the number of junk food commercials." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100209095753.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins