TV targeted at children teaches bad food choices and promotes junk food

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A new study revealed that television programs specifically targeted at children are teaching them bad food choices while promoting junk food. The research, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, mentioned that public broadcasts in two countries have been analyzed. The data from the U.K. and Ireland clearly pointed to a large number of unhealthy food choices being seen by children on a daily basis.

Television influences food for children

Researchers observed the type of food and drinks being mentioned during the morning programs created for children on public television. Cable programs were not included in the study, and the U.K. and Ireland were the only countries researchers added at this time. Although junk food ads targeted at children are banned in these areas, regular television programs still mention unhealthy food choices. Researchers pointed out that there needs to be a greater awareness about the food and drinks included in the shows.

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The study revealed that 47.5 percent of the food placements in the programs were for unhealthy products. In addition, the plots of many of the shows promoted junk food as a reward for characters and children. Furthermore, researchers were disturbed to notice that the characters on the shows were not overweight, but they consumed large quantities of junk food. This could create unrealistic expectations for kids who may not realize the links to gaining weight.

More research needed

The current study only focused on one week of television programs in the U.K. and Ireland, so more research is needed. In addition to expanding the scope to include other countries, it may be helpful to investigate shows for more than a week. Researchers may also want to consider how TV that is not specifically aimed at children is influencing their choices because some families allow their kids to watch older programs.

Image: Julian Tysoe/Wikimedia Commons

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