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TV Ads and Childhood Obesity

Pulling the plug on some food ads might reduce childhood obesity.

Child watching tv ads

British researchers analyzed TV ads for high-fat, sugary and salty foods and beverages in the U.K. The conclusion? The number of children ages 5–17 who are overweight or obese in the country would decrease by 3.6% and 4.6%, respectively, if such commercials were not permitted to be aired between 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.

The team, writing in PLOS Medicine, said this the equivalent to 40,000 fewer kids who would be obese and 120,000 fewer who would be classified as overweight resulting in a multi-billion-dollar health-related monetary benefit.

It’s worth noting that kids now consume media from a range of sources, including online and on-demand services. It would be important to ensure that this advertising restriction is applied to a range of platforms so if TV ads for junk food decreases that it doesn’t just increase online as advertisers aim to compensate.

See also: Cut TV Time, Cut Kids’ Blood Pressure Problems

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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