Familiarity With Unhealthy Foods Linked To Childhood Obesity

NEW YORK: Besides physical activities, limiting exposure to advertisements of unhealthy foods could be the key to protecting your kids from obesity, suggests a study.

The more kids get familiar with logos and other images from fast food restaurants, sodas and not-so-healthy snack food brands, the more they are likely to be overweight or obese, the findings showed.

“Because kids get most of their food messages from television, the consistent relationship between brand knowledge and BMI (body mass index) suggests that limiting advertising exposure might be a step in the right direction,” said Anna McAlister, assistant professor at Michigan State University in the US.

“The kids who know most about these brands have higher BMIs,” she added.

For the study, the researchers tested kids – aged between three and five – by giving pictures of unhealthy food-related logos.

Doing the study twice, the researchers found that among one group exercise tended to offset the negative effects of too much familiarity with unhealthy food. However, that finding could not be duplicated in the second group.

“The inconsistency across studies tells us that physical activity should not be seen as a cure-all in fixing childhood obesity,” McAlister said.

“Of course we want kids to be active, but the results from these studies suggest that physical activity is not the only answer,” she added.

“From our results,” she said, “it would suggest that it is not the TV time itself, but rather what is learned about these brands. It is probably the developing food knowledge, not the sedentary lifestyle.

The findings were published in the journal Appetite.

Source: IANS