In a new research, University of Liverpool health expert Dr Emma Boyland has confirmed that unhealthy food advertising does increase food intake in children.
Researchers, led by Dr Boyland from the University's Institute of Psychology, Health & Society, reviewed and analysed 22 separate studies that had examined the impact of acute, experimental unhealthy food advertising exposure on food consumption. The studies included had exposed children and/or adults to unhealthy food advertising on the television or Internet, measured how much they ate, and compared this to the amount people ate without food advertising.
The analysis showed that unhealthy food advertising exposure significantly increased food consumption in children, but not adults. Television and Internet advertising were equally impactful.
"Small, but cumulative increases in energy intake have resulted in the current global childhood obesity epidemic and food marketing plays a critical role in this. We have also shown that the effects are not confined to TV advertising; online marketing by food and beverage brands is now well established and has a similar impact.
"On the basis of these findings, recommendations for enacting environmental strategies and policy options to reduce children's exposure to food advertising are evidence-based and warranted." The study has been published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.