Children Who Watch Most Media are Also Most Obese
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Children Who Watch Most Media are Also Most Obese

The Kaiser Family Foundation says children who spend the most time with media are more likely to be overweight, and most of the fault lies with advertising messages.

Paul Holmes

The Kaiser Family Foundation says children who spend the most time with media are more likely to be overweight, and most of the fault lies with advertising messages.

Contrary to common assumptions, the Foundation says children’s media use does not displace more vigorous physical activities. The research indicates that there may be other factors related to children’s media use that are contributing to weight gain. In particular, children’s exposure to billions of dollars worth of food advertising and marketing in the media may be a key mechanism through which media contributes to childhood obesity.

The Foundation’s report is based on review of more than 40 studies on the role of media in the nation’s dramatically increasing rates of childhood obesity.

The report cites studies that show that the typical child sees about 40,000 ads a year on TV, and that the majority of ads targeted to kids are for candy, cereal, soda and fast food. Furthermore, many of the advertising and marketing campaigns enlist children’s favorite TV and movie characters: from SpongeBob Cheez-Its to Scooby-Doo cereals and Teletubbies Happy Meals.

The report also cites research indicating that exposure to food advertising affects children’s food choices and requests for products in the supermarket.

“The health implications of childhood obesity are staggering,” says Vicky Rideout, vice president and director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program for the Study of Entertainment Media & Health. “While media is only one of many factors that appear to be affecting childhood obesity, it’s an important piece of the puzzle.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation says children who spend the most time with media are more likely to be overweight, and most of the fault lies with advertising messages.

Contrary to common assumptions, the Foundation says children’s media use does not displace more vigorous physical activities. The research indicates that there may be other factors related to children’s media use that are contributing to weight gain. In particular, children’s exposure to billions of dollars worth of food advertising and marketing in the media may be a key mechanism through which media contributes to childhood obesity.

The Foundation’s report is based on review of more than 40 studies on the role of media in the nation’s dramatically increasing rates of childhood obesity.

The report cites studies that show that the typical child sees about 40,000 ads a year on TV, and that the majority of ads targeted to kids are for candy, cereal, soda and fast food. Furthermore, many of the advertising and marketing campaigns enlist children’s favorite TV and movie characters: from SpongeBob Cheez-Its to Scooby-Doo cereals and Teletubbies Happy Meals.

The report also cites research indicating that exposure to food advertising affects children’s food choices and requests for products in the supermarket.

“The health implications of childhood obesity are staggering,” says Vicky Rideout, vice president and director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program for the Study of Entertainment Media & Health. “While media is only one of many factors that appear to be affecting childhood obesity, it’s an important piece of the puzzle.”

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