According to a latest study, the television has a major impact on the food habits of children. The kinds of foods children eat and the number of calories they consume is largely influenced by what they watch on the television. Unfortunately, however, the ads nowadays are said to having a bad impact on children since ads regarding junk food and high calorie unhealthy snacks are very common in most television channels. The study has also shown that the impact of television is more than that of parental guidance. While parents do encourage children to eat healthy food, the lack of such advice from the television ads is keeping the children from following healthy eating patterns. The study has been carried on by the team lead by Dr. Christopher Ferguson, who is the lead author of the study and an assistant professor in Behavioral, Applied Sciences and Criminal Justice, Texas A&M International.
Dr. Ferguson said that although the ads did have an influence on the choice of food, parental advice could make a dent in the influence. However, parental influence was not strong enough to undo the effects of advertisements. The study was conducted of children between the ages of 3 and 5 and 75 children were considered for the study. These children were shown ads of fast foods and were randomly asked to choose between two kinds of fast foods. Notes were made regarding the choice of healthy and unhealthy foods. One group of children was asked to choose after watching a cartoon movie with advertisement of French fries. The other group was shown a movie with an advertisement of apple slices. After the movie, the children were asked to choose between coupons of apple slices with sauce and French Fries. During the choice making process, parents accompanied the kids.
In each group, half the parents was asked to encourage kids to choose healthy foods while the other half was asked to remain neutral. It was found that French fries were chosen by 71% of the children who had neutral parents and watched the movie that advertised French fries. 55% of children who watched the French fries ad chose French fries despite parents’ intervention. In the other group, 46% chose French fries despite watching apple slices on the television. When parents intervened, it was found that 33% still chose French fries over apple slices. Ferguson said that although parental influence did not match up to the influence of television commercials, they could make a difference since they have long term advantage. If parents continue to counsel their children about choosing healthy foods, they can have a strong influence on kid.