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Minerva Pediatrica 2002 October;54(5):423-36


language: English

Television and children’s consumption patterns. A review of the literature

Coon K. A., Tucker K. L.


The recent increase in childhood obesity has, among other things, focused attention on the role that television may play. This paper summarizes results of studies published in peer review journals since 1970 with data pertaining to the relationship between television use and children's food intake. Studies fall into four categories: content analyses; effects of television advertising on children's food behaviors; television and pediatric obesity, with effects on children's dietary intake and physical activity; and television use and children's food consumption patterns. Content analyses have shown that food is the most frequently advertised product category on children's TV. The majority of these ads target highly sweetened products, but more recently, the proportion from fast food meal promotions has been growing. Controlled studies on children's choices have consistently shown that children exposed to advertising choose advertised food products at significantly higher rates than do those not exposed. Purchase request studies have documented associations between number of hours of TV watched and number of requests from the child to the mother for specific food items, as well as the presence of those items in the home. Greater TV use has been associated with higher intakes of energy, fat, sweet and salty snacks, and carbonated beverages and lower intakes of fruit and vegetables. Several large studies have documented associations between number of hours of TV watched and both the prevalence and incidence of obesity. The combination of lifestyle factors that accompany heavy television use appear to place children at risk of obesity and poor nutritional status.

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