A study shows that children may be absorbing multi-million dollar messages propagated in sports related advertisements, promoting alcohol and fast-foods.
Simone Pettigrew, professor at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and colleagues investigated the effects of these substantial subconscious effects on the manufacturers's part to tie their products with healthy sport via sponsorship.
More than 160 children aged from five to 12 years were invited to take part in an activity that assessed their conscious and subconscious links between sporting teams and a range of sponsors, the journal Public Health Nutrition reports.
The researchers found that more than three-quarters of the children aligned at least one correct sponsor with the relevant sport.
More than half correctly matched an Australian Football League team with its relevant sponsor, a fast-food chain.
"Given the unstructured nature of the task, the results provide support for the argument that sports sponsorship effectively reaches child audiences," the authors write, according to an UWA statement.
"While sponsors may argue that they are not intentionally targeting children, it is clear that their efforts are producing this 'unintended' consequence and that as a result they should come under closer scrutiny." concluded Pettigrew.