Child obesity seen as fueled by Spanish language tv ads

Feb 18, 2008

Spanish-language television is bombarding children with so many fast-food commercials that it may be fueling the rising obesity epidemic among Latino youth, according to research led by pediatricians from the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Latino children, who make up one-fifth of the U.S. child population, also have the highest obesity and overweight rates of all ethnic groups.

A report on the study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was released online ahead of print in the Journal of Pediatrics.

“While we cannot blame overweight and obesity solely on TV commercials, there is solid evidence that children exposed to such messages tend to have unhealthy diets and to be overweight,” says study lead investigator Darcy Thompson, M.D., M.P.H., a pediatrician at Hopkins Children’s.

Past research among English-speaking children has shown that TV ads influence food preferences, particularly among the more impressionable young viewers.

Researchers reviewed 60 hours of programming airing between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., heavy viewing hours for school-age children, on Univision and Telemundo, the two largest Spanish-language channels in the United States, reaching 99 percent and 93 percent of U.S. Latino households, respectively. Univision content was recorded from its national network cable in Seattle, and Telemundo content was recorded on a local carrier in Tucson, Ariz.

Tallying two or three food commercials each hour, the investigators said one-third specifically targeted children. Nearly half of all food commercials featured fast food, and more than half of all drink commercials promoted soda and drinks with high sugar content.

To counter the effects of food commercials, the researchers suggest, young children should be restricted to two hours a day or less of TV viewing and parents should talk to them about healthy diet and food choices. Children younger than 2 should not be allowed to watch any TV, pediatricians advise.

Other recommendations:

-- Pediatricians caring for Latino children should be aware of their patients’ heavy exposure to food ads and the possible effects.
-- Public health officials should urge policy makers to limit food advertising to children, something many European countries are already doing.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

Explore further: Experts on aging: UN Sustainable Development Goals discriminatory, ageist

Related Stories

Nepal quake: Nearly 1,400 dead, Everest shaken (Update)

Apr 25, 2015

Tens of thousands of people were spending the night in the open under a chilly and thunderous sky after a powerful earthquake devastated Nepal on Saturday, killing nearly 1,400, collapsing modern houses and ...

Consumer groups claim YouTube kids app 'deceptive'

Apr 07, 2015

A coalition of consumer and child advocacy groups asked US regulators Tuesday to investigate Google's new YouTube app for children, claiming it inappropriately delivers too much advertising to young viewers.

Recommended for you

Footpaths and parks support active school commute

19 hours ago

While it probably won't make the idea of attending school more appealing social scientists say different infrastructure and behaviour change programs are key to encouraging young people to take a more active ...

Food barometer measures a population’'s eating habits

20 hours ago

A survey by Taylor's-Toulouse University Centre (TTUC) is collecting data on the food habits of individuals and how their choices are related to modernisation and other social factors. Results show that almost ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.