Beyond-brand effect of television food advertisements on food choice in children: the effects of weight status

Public Health Nutr. 2008 Sep;11(9):897-904. doi: 10.1017/S1368980007001231. Epub 2007 Nov 16.


Objective: To investigate the effect of television food advertising on children's food intake, specifically whether childhood obesity is related to a greater susceptibility to food promotion.

Design: The study was a within-subject, counterbalanced design. The children were tested on two occasions separated by two weeks. One condition involved the children viewing food advertisements followed by a cartoon, in the other condition the children viewed non-food adverts followed by the same cartoon. Following the cartoon, their food intake and choice was assessed in a standard paradigm.

Setting: The study was conducted in Liverpool, UK.

Subjects: Fifty-nine children (32 male, 27 female) aged 9-11 years were recruited from a UK school to participate in the study. Thirty-three children were normal-weight (NW), 15 overweight (OW) and 11 obese (OB).

Results: Exposure to food adverts produced substantial and significant increases in energy intake in all children (P < 0.001). The increase in intake was largest in the obese children (P = 0.04). All children increased their consumption of high-fat and/or sweet energy-dense snacks in response to the adverts (P < 0.001). In the food advert condition, total intake and the intake of these specific snack items correlated with the children's modified age- and gender-specific body mass index score.

Conclusions: These data suggest that obese and overweight children are indeed more responsive to food promotion, which specifically stimulates the intake of energy-dense snacks.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advertising
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cartoons as Topic
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marketing / methods*
  • Mass Media
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Overweight / etiology
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Television
  • Thinness / psychology