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The nag factor: How do children convince their parents to buy unhealthy foods?
Date:8/15/2011

The Nag Factor: How do very young children get their parents to buy foods and beverages of low nutritional value?

Sure they're fun and kids love them, but could cartoon characters used in marketing contribute to the obesity epidemic as well as create nagging children? Today, some parents find themselves having a battle in the cereal aisle. Recognizable characters and logos prompt children to make repeated requests for a range of products including low nutritional foods and beverages. To better understand the media's impact on children's health, a team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined the "Nag Factor." The "Nag Factor" is the tendency of children, who are bombarded with marketers' messages, to unrelentingly request advertised items. Researchers explored whether and how mothers of young children have experienced this phenomenon and strategies for coping. The results are featured in the August 2011 issue of the Journal of Children and Media.

"As researchers continue to investigate factors influencing the childhood obesity epidemic, attention often turns towards the marketing and consumption of junk food," said Dina Borzekowski, EdD, EdM, MA, senior author of the study and an associate professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Health, Behavior and Society. "Clearly, children are not the primary shoppers in the households, so how do child-oriented, low-nutrition foods and beverages enter the homes and diets of young children? Our study indicates that while overall media use was not associated with nagging, one's familiarity with commercial television characters was significantly associated with overall and specific types of nagging. In addition, mothers cited packaging, characters, and commercials as the three main forces compelling their children to nag."

Using quantitative and qualitative methodologies, researchers interviewed 64 mothers of children ages 3 to 5 years betwe
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Contact: Natalie Wood-Wright
nwoodwri@jhsph.edu
410-614-6029
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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