Impact of Unhealthy Food Advertisements on Children

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Impact of unhealthy food advertisements on children

Abstract

Studies have shown that a trend toward junk food consumption has been increased among children in Pakistan, which is ultimately leading to childhood obesity. Our purpose of study is analyzing the impact of food advertisements on the children aged 8-13 years in terms of the food ads influence on their unhealthy food consumption and purchasing preference. The methodology we used was that firstly we had surveyed 10 well known primary schools of Multan, ten students were taken from each school thus our sample size(n=100)and they were asked to fill the questionnaires. Secondly we had also observed the buying behavior of the children at canteens. Thirdly, Parents and teachers were also interviewed they had the opinion that there is an impact of junk food ads on children eating preferences. Our results included that mostly children have no concept of fats which can be the reason for greater unhealthy food consumption in response to food ads among them. The weak relationship exists between the number of hours the TV watched by the children and junk food consumption frequency. Moreover, mostly ads remembered by the children were of confectionaries and fast food outlets; suggesting that children are more attracted towards the junk food items because of the Junk food ads. Results also show parents have strong influence in stopping their children from consuming the junk foods but the relationship between the parental influence and the junk food consumption frequency found to be weak as children consume more food outside the home. The study was carried out with 8-13 years aged pupils (n =100) in ten primary schools in main areas of Multan. Thus, the generality of these findings to children from other demographics and cities is unclear. Moreover, only ten schools of the Multan were visited.

Keywords:
Children; Food advertisement; Junk food; Child obesity; Purchasing preferences

Introduction
The main course of our research relies on scratching out all the possible factors and variables that are used in food advertisements. Television is one of the strongest medium of advertisement due to its mass reach; it can influence not only the individual’s attitude, behavior, life style, exposure, eating pattern and other aspects of one’s life. Besides TV there are other medium including magazines, newspapers, radio, billboards etc to advertise the food products. Children of course are the most awful victims of advertisements. Its effects on the children are universal in nature. Food marketers are interested in children because of their spending power. They are more influenced by the advertisement and purchase the product. More hours they spend on watching TV, the more impact on their purchase. The companies that make junk food aggressively advertise their products. The junk food ads are mostly shown on the children TV programming as it promotes consumption. They specially use cartoon characters that are mostly admired by children. They also use musical backgrounds and color schemes that attract the children. Children diets are strongly influenced by the environment. They eat more food away from home, drinking soft drinks and snacking more frequently. The intake of fats, sugar and artificial flavors has increased. That is the major reason of increasing obesity among children and indicates an alarming situation. Children who watch excessive television may be the ones who do not participate in games and are consumers of fat and high energy snack foods. Commercials could be attributed as misleading. Excessive TV viewing brings laziness and idleness and thus creates childhood obesity. The findings come from research at Liverpool University which draws a clear link between the TV advertising of foods high in fat, sugar, salt and rising obesity. The findings put pressure to the parents to control their children diet as well as their TV viewing. The purpose of our study is (1)...
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