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Parents with heavy TV viewing more likely to feed children junk food
Date:6/6/2013

Washington, DC (June 3, 2013) If your preschooler thinks a cheeseburger is healthy, you may want to reconsider how you watch TV. A recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan found commercial TV viewing, as opposed to commercial-free digitally recorded TV or other media without food advertising, in the home was related to greater junk food consumption.

Kristen Harrison and Mericarmen Peralta, both of the University of Michigan, will present their findings at the 63rd Annual International Communication Association conference in London. Harrison and Peralta interviewed over 100 parents about a wide variety of home and family characteristics, including child and parent media exposure, and child dietary intake. They conducted separate interviews with children in preschools to get a sense of what children thought made up a healthy meal. The goal was to see how family characteristics were associated with children's dietary intake and perceptions of healthy meals.

Using food security as a marker, Harrison found that the media-junk food link is very strong among food-secure people, and almost zero among food-insecure people. Since food insecurity is associated with limited income, it sets limits on how much people can spend on junk food. Food-secure people, on the other hand, can afford to give in to cravings when watching food advertising. People in this category were more likely to consume junk food, and their children had distorted views on what constitutes a healthy meal.

Past research has linked child TV viewing to obesity in childhood, but not during the preschool years. It has also combined commercial TV with digitally-recorded TV, so there was no way to separate the two. Little research has investigated the development of ideas about healthy-meals in the preschool years. Harrison and Peralta's research aimed to address these less-studied topics to get a better sense of what children are learning about eating before the
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Contact: John Paul Gutierrez
jpgutierrez@icahdq.org
International Communication Association
Source:Eurekalert

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