Your Health

Here’s Why TV Ads Might Be Influencing Your Child’s Food Choices

Hint - there's a lot of junk food involved!

Sometimes it may feel like everywhere you turn, there’s some sort of junk food being advertised—whether that’s cupcakes or fries or deep fried things on a stick. And more than sometimes, you have a child begging you for a sweet treat or sugary drink. It can feel like a daunting task at times to encourage and foster healthy eating. While we know there are many factors that influence a child’s food choices, here’s one that you may not have thought of.

When children’s shows come on, so do junk food ads

We’re serious! A recent study by scientists in Australia found that during children’s peak viewing times, junk food is advertised twice as much healthy foods (1). If you do the math (which scientists did), it comes out to be more than 800 junk food ads each year for 80 minutes of TV per day (1). The most common advertisements are for snack foods, battered meats (think corn dogs), fast food and sugary drinks (1). For very young children, an extra 150 calories a day can lead to weight gain (2). At this age, research shows that every extra hour a child spends watching TV, they consume an additional 50 calories in junk food (2). Over a year, that can make a big difference!

Here’s what you can do!

Childhood obesity continues to be a public health problem in the United States as rates of childhood obesity have almost tripled in the last 25 years (2). Research has shown that a child’s risk for obesity increases as television time increases (2). Obesity can lead to a variety of health complications down the road and can definitely put a dent in your wallet (2). While the thought of this is scary, there are a lot of things you can do to help combat childhood obesity. A good place to start is here:

  • Limit screen time for children
  • When commercials come on, turn off the TV
  • Stream or pre download show to avoid commercials
  • Encourage children to spend more time outdoors (just make sure to follow these rules at the playground!)
  • Try out some healthy homemade snacks when cravings strike
  • If you’re struggling with picky eaters, we’ve got some tips here