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Beyond-brand effect of television food advertisements on food choice in children: the effects of weight status

  • Jason CG Halford (a1), Emma J Boyland (a1), Georgina M Hughes (a1), Leanne Stacey (a1), Sarah McKean (a1) and Terence M Dovey (a1) (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 September 2008

To investigate the effect of television food advertising on children’s food intake, specifically whether childhood obesity is related to a greater susceptibility to food promotion.


The study was a within-subject, counterbalanced design. The children were tested on two occasions separated by two weeks. One condition involved the children viewing food advertisements followed by a cartoon, in the other condition the children viewed non-food adverts followed by the same cartoon. Following the cartoon, their food intake and choice was assessed in a standard paradigm.


The study was conducted in Liverpool, UK.


Fifty-nine children (32 male, 27 female) aged 9–11 years were recruited from a UK school to participate in the study. Thirty-three children were normal-weight (NW), 15 overweight (OW) and 11 obese (OB).


Exposure to food adverts produced substantial and significant increases in energy intake in all children (P < 0·001). The increase in intake was largest in the obese children (P = 0·04). All children increased their consumption of high-fat and/or sweet energy-dense snacks in response to the adverts (P < 0·001). In the food advert condition, total intake and the intake of these specific snack items correlated with the children’s modified age- and gender-specific body mass index score.


These data suggest that obese and overweight children are indeed more responsive to food promotion, which specifically stimulates the intake of energy-dense snacks.

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