Children eat more after viewing television commercials for food, with obese and overweight children upping their food intake by more than 100 percent, according to a new study from the University of Liverpool.
For the study, 60 children ages 9 to 11 of various weights were shown a series of food and toy commercials followed by a cartoon. Food intake for all the children was significantly higher following the food commercials.
Obese children were impacted the worst, increasing their food intake some 134 percent following a food advertisement. Overweight children ate 101 percent more after a food commercial, while children of a normal weight increased their food intakes by 84 percent.
"Our research confirms food TV advertising has a profound effect on all children's eating habits - doubling their consumption rate," said Dr. Jason Halford, director of the university's Kissileff Human Ingestive Behaviour Laboratory, in a press statement released by the University of Liverpool. "The study was also particularly interesting in suggesting a strong connection between weight and susceptibility to over-eating."
Although conducted in the U.K., the study also could have significant implications in the U.S. where the average child watches between 30 and 50 hours of food commercials on television each year and about 90 percent of those commercials are for junk food, according to a study released last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The study also showed that weight often dictates food preference. Children participants were offered both high fat and low fat food choices, but obese children consistently picked the highest fat food - chocolate - offered them. Overweight children chose both chocolate and jelly sweets, which have a lower fat content.