TV advertising influences the eating behavior of adolescents
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial television a day eat more than 500 additional snacks such as chips, cookies, and soft drinks a year. This emerges from a frightening report by an English cancer organization. According to the report, teenagers in particular are motivated by TV advertising for unhealthy and high-calorie foods to eat more fast food and sweets than those who watch less TV. The report is based on a survey that asked 3,348 UK young people between the ages of 11 and 19 about their television habits and diet.
Energy drinks and other soft drinks with a lot of sugar, chips and fast food were some of the foods that were eaten more by teenagers who saw a lot of television with advertisements. When watching television without advertising, the researchers found no connection between the length of the television and the likelihood of eating more junk food. This suggests that commercial TV commercials could lead young people to eat unhealthy foods. The Cancer Research UK report was recently published on the organization's website.
The strongest evidence so far
The report is also the largest study ever undertaken in the UK to assess the impact of TV advertising on nutrition. It turned out that adolescents who claimed to watch TV with advertisements on a regular basis were more than twice as likely to drink soft drinks and eat more convenience foods. "This is the strongest evidence that advertising for unhealthy food could increase the number of teenagers who eat more unhealthy foods," Dr. Jyotsna Vohra, a lead author of the study. While that wouldn't mean that every teenager who watches TV commercials automatically turns to fast food and soft drinks, this poll suggests there is a strong link between advertising and eating habits.
Severe health consequences
Regular eating of high-calorie foods and drinks, which usually also contain higher amounts of fat and sugar, increases the risk of being overweight or obese. According to Cancer Research UK, obesity is the second largest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking and obesity is linked to 13 cancers including colon, breast and pancreatic cancer. Vohra criticizes the British media regulator "Ofcom" for its outdated regulations. "Ofcom must stop advertising junk food that is shown on programs that are popular with young people," said Vohra. Reducing TV marketing for unhealthy eating could help stop obesity from growing.
Children are more prone to become obese
"Overweight children are five times more obese than adults, which can increase their risk of cancer later in life," says Professor Linda Bauld, prevention expert at Cancer Research UK. The food industry will continue to push its products into teenagers' heads as long as they are allowed to. The government must work with "Ofcom" to protect the health of the next generation.
About Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK is one of the world's leading cancer organizations dedicated to saving lives through research. More than 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses support "Cancer Research UK" in researching all aspects of cancer. According to the organization, two out of four people today survive their cancer for at least ten years. The goal of the organization is to accelerate progress until 2034 so that three out of four people will survive their cancer for at least ten years. (vb)