Introduction: Fast food (FF) advertising is a potential risk factor for FF consumption among children, yet the impact of such advertising on children's FF intake has not been assessed in a longitudinal, naturalistic study. Whether parents' FF consumption mitigates advertising effects is also unknown.
Methods: One-year, longitudinal study among 624 preschool-age children, 3-5 years old, and one parent each recruited from New Hampshire, 2014-2015. Parents completed six online surveys every eight weeks and, at each, reported the number of times their children consumed FF in the past week. Each child's advertisement exposure was determined by counting the brand-specific FF advertisements aired within the programs they viewed on children's TV networks during the study. At baseline, parents reported the frequency of their own FF consumption. Data were analyzed in 2017-2018.
Results: Three FF brands targeted TV advertising to children during the study: McDonald's, Wendy's and Subway. Few children were exposed to child-targeted advertising for Wendy's or Subway. Results from adjusted Poisson regression models focused on McDonald's showed a differential effect of advertisement exposure on children's McDonald's intake in the past week (any or mean intake) by parental FF consumption (P < 0.01). Specifically, McDonald's intake was consistently high among children whose parents consumed FF more frequently (≥monthly), regardless of children's advertisement exposure. However, advertisement exposure increased the risk of McDonald's intake among children nearly two-fold when parents consumed FF less frequently (<monthly) (P-values <0.01).
Conclusions: Results suggest that child-targeted FF advertising may mitigate the protective effect of infrequent parental FF intake on children's FF intake.
Keywords: Advertising; Childhood obesity; Fast food; Preschoolers.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Conflict of interest statement
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