Overweight children are more susceptible to advertising

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Overweight children prone to advertising

So far, it has been assumed that the age of children in particular is the decisive factor for the ability to recognize and classify advertising as such. Austrian researchers have now found that other factors such as body weight also play a decisive role - especially when it comes to advertising for food.

Differences in children's media literacy Up to now, the age of children has been a decisive factor in whether the little ones are able to recognize and classify advertising as such. But Austrian researchers have now found that body weight, body awareness and eating behavior also play a crucial role. As the study author Dr. Ralf Terlutter from the University of Klagenfurt said that it can be explained that there are always big differences in the "advertising literacy", ie the media competence of the children, within the age groups.

Confident children handle advertising more competently The university professor and his colleague Julia Spielvogel conducted 249 interviews with children aged seven to eleven at three Austrian elementary schools. The results were sometimes surprising. It showed that children who like to eat unhealthy food would be less skeptical about the advertised food. Terlutter said they could avoid cognitive dissonance like this. One of the key findings of the study is that children with better self-confidence generally deal with advertising more competently. Last but not least, one's self-confidence is influenced by the body mass index (BMI) and one's own body awareness.

Important role of parents The researchers therefore recommend that overweight children need special training in media literacy at an early age. This is particularly the case since around 40 percent of all advertisements on television contain food. The legal guardians play an important role in this, because, as the study shows, the parents' attitudes towards the advertised food have a strong impact on the children's perspective.

20,000 to 40,000 commercials per year The German Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ) also came to similar negative results in 2011 regarding the influence of TV advertising on children. The little ones watch an average of between 20,000 and 40,000 commercials per year while watching TV. As the DGKJ's evaluation showed at the time, around half of all advertising films related to soft drinks, confectionery and savory biscuits. The number of children with overweight or obesity continues to increase. In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated around 170 million overweight children worldwide. (ad)

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