Yale University researchers conducted series of experiments to test the effects of food commercials on mindless eating. They found that in children aged 7 to 11 who watched a 30-minute cartoon that included food commercials consumed 45 percent more snack food while watching the program than children who watched the same cartoon with non-food commercials. The researchers explain that this amount of snacking could lead to a nearly 10-pound weight gain over one year, unless it was countered by a decreased intake in other foods or an increase in physical activity.
In another experiment, researchers saw similar responses in adults watching TV ads with unhealthy foods being advertised. They researchers concluded that food advertising triggers automatic eating, regardless if a person is hungry, contributing to the obesity epidemic.
Bottom line: Until more stringent rules are placed on food company’s to deter from advertising unhealthy foods to children, consider cutting back on your child’s overall television viewing. When your child is watching television, make it a rule that eating and viewing do not go hand-in-hand. Lastly, offer only healthy snacks to your child, such as fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grain crackers or cereal, or low-fat yogurt.
Written by Melissa Ohlson, MS, RD, LD, Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation.
Get more information on nutrition strategies. To make an appointment with a registered dietitian, call the Cleveland Clinic Preventive Cardiology - 216.444.9353 or 800.223.2273 ext. 9353. Or, get a nutrition consultation online with our private and secure MyConsult Nutrition Consultation.
Can't find the health information you’re looking for?