Effect of television advertisements for foods on food consumption in children

Appetite. 2004 Apr;42(2):221-5. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2003.11.006.


The impact of television (TV) advertisements (commercials) on children's eating behaviour and health is of critical interest. In a preliminary study we examined lean, over weight and obese children's ability to recognise eight food and eight non-food related adverts in a repeated measures design. Their consumption of sweet and savoury, high and low fat snack foods were measured after both sessions. Whilst there was no significant difference in the number of non-food adverts recognised between the lean and obese children, the obese children did recognise significantly more of the food adverts. The ability to recognise the food adverts significantly correlated with the amount of food eaten after exposure to them. The overall snack food intake of the obese and overweight children was significantly higher than the lean children in the control (non-food advert) condition. The consumption of all the food offered increased post food advert with the exception of the low-fat savoury snack. These data demonstrate obese children's heightened alertness to food related cues. Moreover, exposure to such cues induce increased food intake in all children. As suggested the relationship between TV viewing and childhood obesity appears not merely a matter of excessive sedentary activity. Exposure to food adverts promotes consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advertising*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cues
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food / classification*
  • Food Preferences / physiology
  • Food Preferences / psychology
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Television*