When asked how people make food choices, many people say taste is the number one factor. Flavor, aroma, appearance and texture all work together to impact what you choose for your daily meals and snacks. However, decisions about food go beyond taste and smell, reflecting a complex web of social, environmental and economic influences adults and children may not even be aware of. We develop food preferences based on our family, region / country where we live, cost of food, and mainly how food is marketed / advertised to us. These days children on average are spending 53 hours a week in front of a screen and hence this has a definite impact on kids health and wellness. Exposure to food advertising is one of the powerful forces driving the relationship between screen time and obesity.
More specifically, exposure to advertising may be altering children’s food intake. Children and adolescents are inundated with advertisements which promote unhealthy foods and beverages. It is estimated that US food and beverage companies spend roughly $2 billion each year to market their products to kids. The largest proportion of advertising expenditures – roughly 40% of all money spent on food and beverage advertising – came from fast food restaurants, followed by carbonated beverages (22%).
By comparison, advertising of fruits and vegetables accounts for just 0.4% of all advertising dollars. Just 0.4% for advertisement of healthy food. TV advertising remains the primary channel through which companies reach children and adolescents. Advertising can have a powerful, subconscious affect on food choices for both adults and children. For example, according to research, TV commercials for snack foods increase consumption of these foods before and after airing.
Early research has demonstrated that children exposed to food advertising consumed more total food energy compared to exposure to non-food advertisements. Elementary-school aged children consumed 45% more snack foods after watching a short cartoon which contained a food advertisement compared to children who watched the same cartoon with advertisements for other, non-food, products.