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Fast food ads putting your kids’ health at risk

Washington D.C.: What your children see on television can greatly influence what they eat. A new research has revealed that the more frequently children watch TV channels that show ads for kids’ fast food meals, the more often their families eat at those fast food restaurants

Fast food companies advertise children’s meals on TV with ads that feature toy premiums, and it has been suggested that the use of these toy premiums may prompt children to request eating at fast food restaurants.

Researchers found that the more children watched television channels that aired ads for children’s fast food meals, the more frequently their families visited those fast food restaurants.

Using a database they compiled of all fast food TV ads that aired nationally in 2009, Jennifer A. Emond, PhD, and colleagues from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth found that only two nationally-recognized fast food chains engaged in child-directed TV advertising at that time.

According to Dr. Emond, seventy-nine percent of the child-directed ads from those two restaurants aired on just four children’s networks.

These findings also show that children’s food preferences may be partially shaped by a desire for the toys featured in TV ads. “For now,” notes Dr. Emond, “our best advice to parents is to switch their child to commercial-free TV programming to help avoid pestering for foods seen in commercials.”

The study is scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics.