Youth obesity linked to TV fast food advertising

October 28, 2013 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Youth obesity linked to TV fast food advertising

Youth obesity is associated with receptiveness to TV fast food advertising, according to researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine and at the Dartmouth Institute. The team found that young people with obesity are significantly more likely to notice, like, and name the brand in fast food ads they see on television than non-obese peers.

The link between youth obesity and receptiveness to TV fast food advertising held even when factors like snacking while watching TV, sugary drink intake, and frequency of visits to fast food restaurants were accounted for.

A national sample of 2,541 participants between 15 and 23 years old were surveyed for the study. Respondents viewed a random subset of 20 advertisement frames (with brand names removed) selected from national TV fast-food restaurant advertisements and were then asked if they had seen the advertisement, if they liked it, and if they could name the brand.

A TV fast-food advertising receptivity score (a measure of exposure and response) was assigned. Youth with higher receptivity scores were more likely to have obesity than those with lower scores.

Since this study was cross-sectional, the researchers couldn't determine which comes first -- advertising receptivity or obesity. The researchers note that further studies are needed to better understand the link between food marketing and risk for obesity, in particular studies with more extensive assessments of diet, activity, and marketing exposure.

Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, November 2013.

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