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Childhood Obesity and Food Advertising

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Children born in the generation of mass advertising and overconsumption of foods are constantly being exposed to unhealthy foods. Mass advertising is one of the factors contributing to the obesity epidemic. Social, environmental and individual factors may further be influencing the rising rates of childhood obesity. Within this paper, I will provide a literature review about how television food advertising has played a role in the growth of childhood obesity and then discuss by what means the food advertising on television impacts childhood obesity. I will argue that watching television and the presence of food advertisement contribute the growing childhood obesity epidemic by advertising unhealthy food choices, by stimulating increased snacking and by displacing time that could be used for physical activity for television
A number of studies discuss the growing rates of childhood obesity. Recent research states that childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years (Zimmerman & Bell, 2010). A 2013 study showed that in 2011 to 2012, 25.3 percent of children aged 5 to 17 years were overweight and obese (Tseng, Haapala, Hodge & Yngve, 2013). Many research experts suggest that the rates of obesity will continue to grow, which necessitates further examination into the social factors influencing this increase.
The literature suggests that the reason for the rise in childhood obesity has a correlation with the amount of time spent watching television food advertisements. Social cognitive theorists believe that food advertising is priming behaviour and is thus creating cues for society to behave in certain ways without realizing it or having the intent to behave in that manner (Harris, Bargh & Brownell, 2009). Many television ...

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Tseng, M., Haapala, I., Hodge, A., & Yngve, A. (2013). Childhood obesity. Public Health Nutrition, 16(2), 191. doi:10.1017/S1368980012005332
Wiecha, J. L., Peterson, K. E., Ludwig, D. S., Kim, J., Sobol, A., & Gortmaker, S. L. (2006). When children eat what they watch: Impact of television viewing on dietary intake in youth. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 160(4), 436-442. doi:10.1001/archpedi.160.4.436
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Zimmerman, F. J., & Bell, J. F. (2010). Associations of television content type and obesity in children. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 334-340. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.155119
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