The impact of TV food commercials among children's food choice and attitude
Watching TV has become the third most time-intense activity of the Spanish children. While they spend seven hours sleeping and four and a half hours attending school, in Spain an average child watches two and a half hours of television and is exposed to 100 commercials a day. A study of the OCU (Organisation of Consumers and Users in Spain, 2007) showed that 56% of those commercials are nutritional products as chocolate, candies, sugared milk products and salty appetisers. The creative strategy behind these food commercials is based on presenting the product in an interactive, artificial and colourful way, instead of stressing its nutritional or health quality (Elliott, 2007). As a result, children associate food with entertainment and assume that eating is a leisure activity that provides distraction. In this context, increasing overweight, infantile obesity and wrong eating habits among children have become striking social problems. Research shows that obesity in childhood is increasing and the classic externality theory of obesity (Schacter, 1971) states that children with weight-problems are more responsive to external stimuli. So, TV food advertising might be an indirect influence on children’s food choices. Studies have demonstrated a correlation between the duration of TV viewing and the levels of overweight. However, there is still little evidence on the causal relationship between children’s exposure to different types of food commercials and their subsequent food choices. Therefore, the objective of this research proposal is to assess the impact of food advertising exposure on choice among foods. Moreover, the project attempts to determine children’s attention towards food advertisements on television in comparison to non-food advertising, as well as to explore whether overweight or obese children are more interested in food adverts than children with a more normal weight.