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Researchers: Ban on fast food TV advertising would reverse childhood obesity trends
Date:11/19/2008

BETHLEHEM, PA (November 19, 2008) A ban on fast food advertisements in the United States could reduce the number of overweight children by as much as 18 percent, according to a new study being published this month in the Journal of Law and Economics. The study also reports that eliminating the tax deductibility associated with television advertising would result in a reduction of childhood obesity, though in smaller numbers.

The study was conducted by researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) with funding from the National Institutes of Health. NBER economists Shin-Yi Chou of Lehigh University, Inas Rashad of Georgia State University, and Michael Grossman of City University of New York Graduate Center co-authored the paper, which measures the number of hours of fast food television advertising messages viewed by children on a weekly basis.

The authors found that a ban on fast food television advertisements during children's programming would reduce the number of overweight children ages 3-11 by 18 percent, while also lowering the number of overweight adolescents ages 12-18 by 14 percent. The effect is more pronounced for males than females.

Though a ban would be effective, the authors also question whether such a high degree of government involvementand the costs of implementing such policiesis a practical option. Should the U.S. pursue that path, they would follow Sweden, Norway and Finland as the only countries to have banned commercial sponsorship of children's programs.

"We have known for some time that childhood obesity has gripped our culture, but little empirical research has been done that identifies television advertising as a possible cause," says Chou, the Frank L. Magee Distinguished Professor at Lehigh's College of Business and Economics. "Hopefully, this line of research can lead to a serious discussion about the type of policies that can curb America's obesity epidemic."


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Contact: Tom Yencho
tsy205@lehigh.edu
610-758-3172
Lehigh University
Source:Eurekalert

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