The New York Times tells us about a study conducted at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. (Sadly, it was not underwritten by the Chubb Group. Rim shot.) They found that when kids watch cartoons that include ads for “unhealthy snacks,” they eat more of said snacks.
More specifically, here is what the researchers did:
“118 children, ages 7 to 11, were each given bowls of Goldfish crackers and then left to watch a 14-minute cartoon. During the commercial breaks, some of the children saw ads for games and entertainment; others watched four spots for unhealthy snacks like waffle sticks with syrup, fruit roll-ups and potato chips. The children who saw the food spots ate 45 percent more Goldfish than those who watched the game commercials.”
And this shows us what exactly?
Many would fairly respond to this by saying, well, duh. Isn’t that what the ads are for? Not according to the Times. The paper of record says that the food industry has always said “that food ads merely promote competition among similar brands, rather than inspiring extra food consumption or inducing unhealthier food preferences.” Which sounds like a great big load of rich, creamery butter. Do we really believe that ads like this are only meant to make kids eat one thing instead of another, rather than choosing the specific food being advertised?
I also call bullshit on another part of the study. I’m not a scientist; in fact, my knowledge of science mostly begins and ends with the fact that I can spell the word “science.” But it seems to me that a more useful study would have included a third group of kids with a bowl of grapes. Would those children eat more grapes when they saw the food ads? We may never know.
The article also says that fruit roll-ups are unhealthy. Damn. I thought those were the same as regular fruit. Bummer.
Source: NY Times
Image: SXC with a little help from me