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

en October 2006 and July 2007. Mothers answered questions about the household environment, themselves, their child's demographics, media use, eating and shopping patterns, and requests for advertised items. Participants were also asked to describe their experiences and strategies for dealing with the "Nag Factor." Researchers selected mothers as interview subjects because they are most likely to act as "nutritional gatekeepers" for their household and control the food purchasing and preparation for small children. Borzekowski and colleagues found that nagging seemed to fall into three categories: juvenile nagging, nagging to test boundaries, and manipulative nagging. Mothers consistently cited 10 strategies for dealing with the nagging; the strategies included giving in, yelling, ignoring, distracting, staying calm and consistent, avoiding the commercial environment, negotiating and setting rules, allowing alternative items, explaining the reasoning behind choices, and limiting commercial exposure.

"Our study indicates that manipulative nagging and overall nagging increased with age," said Holly Henry, MHS, lead author of the study and a PhD candidate with the Bloomberg School's Department of Health, Behavior and Society. "When it comes to the most commonly cited strategies for dealing with nagging, 36 percent of mothers suggested limiting commercial exposure and 35 percent of mothers suggested simply explaining to children the reasons behind making or not making certain purchases. Giving in was consistently cited as one of the least effective strategies. This unique study offers a platform from which to propose future research and policies to lessen children's repeated requests for advertised items."

Borzekowski adds, "To address childhood obesity, it may be necessary to limit the amount of food and beverage advertising shown on commercial television and other media, as this may lessen children's nagging for unhealthy items."


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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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