Your Kids Recognize and Crave “Unhealthy Food Brands”

Posted 08/12/2014 | By HealthCorps

Your savvy three and four year olds are watching the advertising industry carefully – whether they’re aware of it or not. Subliminal messages in the form of pictures on packaging, jingles on the TV and radio, cartoon figures and mascots, all help to teach your child which foods they should love. By the time they hit their teen years, this messaging has helped to shape their diet. Unfortunately, most if not all of the foods that have an association with these types of ads, are not healthy foods.

A new study from Ireland suggests that this “food-brand knowledge” is helping to predict food preferences during the formative childhood years. The study looked at 172 children, with about half the participants coming from schools in disadvantaged communities. Parents filled out questionnaires, responding to questions on family dynamics, demographics, eating habits and children’s TV viewing time, alone and with others.

The kids were easily able to match food logos with the kind of food it was attached to and the actual food product. Many of the foods would be classified as “less than healthy,” with high sugar, sodium or fat content.

This is obviously an opportunity for parents to realize that TV time should be monitored and limited. Nutrition discussions during family mealtime, and excursions to the supermarket with kids, are both great opportunities that offer a teaching moment. Cooking at home as a family can also help kids to learn about food and nutrition.

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