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New study examines the impact on children of food product placements in the movies

acement, such as the low nutritional quality of the majority of branded products, there are also interesting differences. Recent studies that examined television ads during adolescent programming found fast food and ready-to-eat cereals and cereal bars to be the most prevalent during children's programming. In contrast, the Dartmouth study found that sugar-sweetened beverages, comprised largely of soda, accounted for the largest proportion of all of the movie-based food product brand placements, accounting for one of every four brand placements overall.

The study notes that of particular concern are the food and beverage product placements in comedies and PG-rated and PG-13rated movies, which are often geared specifically to older children and teenagers, who are at an age where they are gaining independence with respect to their food choices. Although the impact of this type of advertising on children is not fully known, it provides a likely avenue by which brand loyalty and product preference can be built in addition to eating patterns. The study also revealed that six companies accounted for 45 percent of all brand placements and included PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle USA, McDonald's, Dr. Pepper/Snapple Group and Burger King.

The study acknowledges that many companies have made pledges not to direct advertising at children in order to encourage healthier dietary choices, and that while this is a step in the right direction, more clearly needs to be done. In addition, the study's authors say that a number of studies to date that focused on other health-related behaviors, including alcohol and tobacco use, showed that movies contain frequent portrayals of these risk behaviors and often include brand appearances of the products. They say it is well established that children who view these risk behaviors in movies are more likely to engage in the behavior themselves.

"This is an area of study which clearly requires more research," says Sutherla

Contact: David Corriveau
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

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