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Study: Sugary Breakfast Cereal Ads Influence Children’s Diets

Research from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center has found a direct correlation between exposure to sugary breakfast cereal ads and poor diets in children. Whether you have children or plan to, take a moment to learn about this study. You may find it useful in creating a weight loss program for the whole family. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

Heavy Rotation

Ads for sugary breakfast cereals are often in heavy rotation on television.

"One factor believed to contribute to children's poor quality diets is the marketing of nutritionally-poor foods directly to children," says study leader Jennifer Emond, PhD, PhD, a member of the Cancer Control research program at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Data Science Geisel School of Medicine. "Brands specifically target children in their advertising knowing that children will ask their parents for those products."

"We found that kids who were exposed to TV ads for high-sugar cereals aired in the programs they watched were more likely to subsequently eat the cereals they had seen advertised,” Emond says.

Weight Management & Disease Control

"Efforts to promote and support quality diets at a young age are important to foster the lifestyle behaviors needed to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease including many cancers," notes Emond. "Child-targeted marketing of foods high in sugar makes it hard for parents to shape healthy eating habits in our kids. It's hard to even notice sometimes. But, it is modifiable. There are policy-level actions that could be implemented to reduce children's exposure to food marketing and to improve the quality of the foods marketed to kids. And we as parents have the choice to switch to ad-free TV for our children and for ourselves."

How will your family’s cereal habits change in the new year?

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