Researchers from the University of Minnesota investigated the relationship between television and diet. This is the first study to examine the association between television viewing and diet over the transition from adolescence into young adulthood. The researchers showed that TV viewing during adolescence predicts poorer dietary intake patterns five years later.
Stronger and more consistent patterns were seen during the transition from high school to young adulthood than during the transition from middle school to high school. Both are critical developmental periods, where lifelong behaviours are formed.
The authors found that those high-school kids who watched more than five hours of television per day had a lower intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and calcium-rich foods; and higher intakes of snack foods, fried foods, fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages, and trans fats five years later.
According to the lead researcher, "These less than healthy foodstuffs are commonly advertised on television while healthy foods rarely receive the same publicity. Although young people may be aware that many foods advertised on television are not healthy, they may chose to ignore or do not fully realize the consequences, because the actors they see advertising and eating the foods in the commercials are usually not overweight".
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