Pre-school children are more likely to consume fast-food when exposed to fast-food TV ads

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In New Hampshire, a recent Dartmouth-led study concluded that pre-school age children who are exposed to child-targeted fast-food advertising on television are considerably more likely to consume fast-food products. The study is the first research conducted in a community setting to demonstrate a significant positive association between child-directed fast-food TV ads and increased fast food consumption among children of pre-school age.

“In general, children’s consumption of fast food is associated with increased intakes of calories, fat and sugar, making fast-food consumption an important risk factor for obesity and other health problems,” says Madeline Dalton, PhD, lead author on the study, who is a professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and a researcher at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

According to Dalton, the findings are particularly concerning because children under six years of age can’t distinguish between advertisements and programs, making them very vulnerable to persuasive messaging.