IHHP Article: Evaluating the influence of television commercials on children's and adolescents' choice of food
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Evaluating the influence of television commercials on children's and adolescents' choice of food

Roya Kelishadi, Mahin Hashemipour, Hamidreza Ruhafza, Masoumeh Sadeghi

Introduction
Rapid lifestyle changes in recent years have led to changes in food habits and physical activity of all family members. Children and adolescents are highly exposed to, and influenced by television programs and commercials. The present study was conducted to evaluate the impact of television commercials on children's and adolescents' choice of food.

Materials and Methods
This is a cross-sectional study of 1200 students aged between 6 and 17 years (equal numbers from the two genders). Data were analyzed with SPSS11/Win at P<0.05.

Results
86.9% of students watched television for 3-5 hours/day. 94.8% of students found television commercials attractive. 80% watched television commercials 3 to 5 times a day before the survey. 97.5% indicated that the commercials they watched advertised food products. In addition, 91.7% of students heavily snacked while viewing television. The most frequently advertised food products were fatty/salty snacks, different types of biscuits and cakes, carbonated beverages, artificial fruit juice and hard margarine. The choice of food in 96.1% of students and 5.6% of parents was influenced by commercials. 90.6% of parents disapproved of their children's choice of food.

Conclusion
Given the effect of television commercials on children's and adolescents' food choices, even in spite of their parents' disapproval, and considering that such commercials encouraged children and adolescents to use non-nutritious, yet attractive food products, we recommend that the current codes for evaluating and broadcasting television commercials be modified so that only healthy foods can be advertised. In view of the inevitable desire of children and adolescents to snack, production of high-quality snacks is warranted.

Key words
TV advertisement, Food choice, Children and adolescents, Parents

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