Obesity linked to fast food TV commercials

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Exposure to television advertising on fast-food is linked with obesity in young people

A new study in the United States revealed that people who are frequently watching TV commercials of fast-food brands may have eating patterns that include many types of high-calorie foods. In addition, they may be especially sensitive to visual cues to eat while watching television.

It seems, TV commercials on fast-food restaurants are to blame for childhood obesity. Not only eating a lot of hamburgers, fried chicken or fish, onions and french fries increases the risk of obesity, but only watching the television advertising on such is linked with obesity in young people.

About the same time when a research found that green coffee bean helps losing weight without side effects, another study was conducted by the U.S. Pediatric Academic Societies. Doctors found that children and adolescents are highly exposed to fast-food restaurant advertising, particularly on television. The research links obesity in young people to familiarity with this kind of advertising. It suggesting that youth who are aware of and receptive to televised fast-food marketing may be at risk for health consequences.

This is not really a new conclusion, as an earlier research had shown that obesity is associated with watching television. Exploring the matter forward, the new research was aimed to determine whether recognition of fast-food ads on TV is associated with obesity in young adults.

The researchers surveyed 3,342 young people, between the ages of 15 to 23 years. Everyone of them was asked details about their height, weight, age, gender, race, social status, and exercise. Further than that, ll the participants answered questions about their consumption of sparkling or sweet drinks, frequency of eating at quick-service restaurants, how many hours they watched TV each day, and whether they eat in front of the television.

All of them were shown still images selected from television ads for leading fast food restaurants, serving fast food, that were aired in the year before the survey.  The youths were asked if they remembered seeing, if they liked the ad and if they could name the restaurant brand, which was carefully removed from the pictures in advance.

The survey found that 18% of the participants are overweight, while 15% were obese. It revealed that the percentage of youth who were obese was significantly higher among those who recognized more ads than those who recognized few ads (17% Vs 8.3%). The research also said that even after controlling for the listed variables, youths who recognized many ads were more than twice as likely to be obese compared with those who recognized few ads.

Accounting for overall TV time, TV ad familiarity has been found to be linked with obesity. Putting on weight is not simply due to increased sedentary time, but to the effect of TV programming.

According to the research, eating more frequently at fast-food restaurants depicted in the ads was not associated with obesity. “The relation between fast-food marketing and obesity is not simply that it prompts more quick-serve restaurant visits,” said study co-author James D Sargent, MD, FAAP, professor in the Department of Paediatrics at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth. “Individuals who are more familiar with these ads may have food consumption patterns that include many types of high-calorie food brands, or they may be especially sensitive to visual cues to eat while watching TV. More research is necessary to determine how fast-food ad familiarity is linked to obesity,” he added.

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