The Impact of Television Media on Food Choices
The detrimental influence of television media on food choices and eating habits of youth in American is a serious issue. Due to the continual variety of media American children are exposed to on a daily basis the response of poor behavior and unhealthy lifestyle habits have shown to increase the health risks of this population. More than one issue is at the root of this problem. Circumstances
Studies date back to the 70s in reference to television media and the influence advertisements had (and still have) on populations exposed to such media. Currently this is a serious and growing concern for public health officials, registered dietitians, and families interested in living their day to day lives in a healthy manner. Youth are at the highest risk. According to the National Health Examination Survey, children ages 11-13 have highest rate of daily television viewing (Brown, 2008, p. 316). In a 2007 study, children were more likely to be overweight when they watched more television (Gable, Chang & Krull, 2007). Currently, the second leading cause of actual death according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is poor diet and physical inactivity (Schneider, 2006, p. 270). Trends that lead to poor diet and physical inactivity, eventually obesity in adults and children alike, stem from habits that form early on in childhood. This creates an endless cycle that perpetuates from generation to generation. Obesity is currently an issue that threatens the majority of Americans and its prevalence has increased substantially in the last three decades (Schneider, 2006, p. 272). It’s caused by a number of different factors including genetics, physical inactivity, and poor eating habits. Two of the three factors noted can be strongly associated with television media. A study conducted at the University of Minnesota in 2009 found an increased incidence of eating in front of the television was primarily due to advertising and reduced metabolic rate in adolescence (Barr-Anderson, Larson & Nelson, 2009). Reduced metabolic rate decreases one’s need for calories. Individuals of this demographic typically don’t take this fact into consideration and eat as much as before their exposure to television was such a significant part of their daily routine. This tendency leads to unwanted and unnecessary weight gain. Increased weight has shown to elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and most kinds of cancer not to mention obesity (Schneider, 2006, p. 270). A less commonly recognized phenomena related to this issue is that people don’t know what healthy choices are and in turn, they are more likely to fall victim to any temptations set before them. These enticements are provided most commonly by television media advertising directed at less educated, more easily influenced audiences. For example, inexpensive fast food that is a particularly popular type of advertising might seem like a logical source of food for some families that do not have access to, or know anything better. Environment
There are many problems that make up this complex and layered situation. Many social, cultural and economic factors contribute to these dietary patterns and eating habits that develop over a lifetime (Schneider, 2006, p. 277). The amount of time children spend with different sources of media from: television, film, video games, and computer or online media is exceedingly taking up the greater part of their time. With the average five and a half hours children spend using media on a daily basis, the only thing they spend more time doing is sleeping (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2004). From age two to twenty, only eighteen years, that adds up to over 29,900 hours spent with media and 1.8 times more than the 16,000 hours spent in school grades k-12 (Grossberg, 2006, p. 93). That equals out to approximately 20 hours per week...
References: Brown, Jane, D., & Witherspoon, Elizabeth M. (2002). The Mass Media and American Adolescents’ Health. Journal of Adolescent Health, 31, 153-170.
Brown, Judith. (2008). Nutrition through the Life Cycle Third Edition. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.
Francis, Lori I., & Birch, LeAnn. (2006). Does Eating during Television Viewing Affect Preschool Children’s Intake? Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 106, 598-600.
Grossberg, Lawrence, Wartella, Ellen, Whitney, D. Charles, & Wise, J. Macgregor. (2006). Media Making Mass Media in a Popular Culture. Thousand Oakes: SAGE Publications.
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2004). The Role of Media in Childhood Obesity. Retrieved October 28, 2009, from www.kff.org/entmedia/.../The-Role-Of-Media- in-Childhood-Obesity.pdf
Schneider, Mary-Jane. (2006). Introduction to Public Health. Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
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