The more frequently a child views child-directed fast food TV ads, often involving a toy, the more likely the family visits the fast food restaurant that was featured in the advertising, reveals a new study.
Using a database they compiled of all fast food TV ads that aired nationally in 2009 in the US, Jennifer A. Emond and colleagues from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth enrolled 100 children (three-seven years of age) and one of their parents in the study.
The parents were asked how often their kids watched four children's TV channels, if their kids asked to go to the two national fast-food chains that advertised on those channels, if their kids collected toys from those restaurant chains, and how often the families visited those fast-food restaurants.
Researchers found that 37 percent of parents reported more frequent visits to the two fast food restaurants with child-directed TV ads.
Fifty-four percent of the children requested visits to at least one of the restaurants. Of the 29 percent of children who collected toys from the restaurants, almost 83 percent requested to visit one or both of the restaurants.
The findings, published online Oct. 30 in The Journal of Pediatrics
, show that fast-food restaurant ads on children's TV channels can exert a significant influence on youngsters, said study author Jennifer Emond, of Dartmouth College's Geisel School of Medicine in New Hampshire, and colleagues.
Some factors associated with more frequent visits were more TVs in the home, a TV in the child's bedroom, more time spent watching TV during the day, and more time spent watching one of the four children's networks airing the majority of child-directed ads.
"Our best advice to parents is to switch their child to commercial-free TV programming to help avoid pestering for foods seen in commercials," Emond said.