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Junk food TV ads linked to child obesity

Pulling out junk food advertisements on television,at least during prime time,will help reduce childhood obesity,say experts....

Written by Vidya Krishnan | New Delhi |
February 12, 2010 12:48:17 am

Pulling out junk food advertisements on television,at least during prime time,will help reduce childhood obesity,say experts.

A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health,which has linked such advertisements to childhood obesity,has found many takers among doctors in India who say the study is “highly relevant” in the Indian context although the concept of junk food is vastly different here.

During the Indo-Australian summit on childhood obesity in Hyderabad on Wednesday,doctors and representatives from Indian Council of Medical Research discussed the possibility of reducing the exposure to advertisements on children.

“If government has an intent to curb childhood obesity,there should be a check on promotional advertisements at least during prime time. This will be a vital tool is addressing the root causes of diabetes,heart diseases and obesity,” Dr Anoop Misra,Director,Internal Medical,Fortis hospital,who attended the summit,told The Indian Express.

According to the study,by the time a child is five,he or she has seen an average of over 4,000 television commercials for food. The study further stated that most weekend cartoons programmes have one food ad every five minutes — with about 95 per cent of them promoting food with poor nutritional value. This is the first time a study has been conducted to examine the effects of television on obesity.

In the Indian context,doctors say that the study is relevant in both urban and rural areas. “The television is a powerful medium and makes a great impact on a child’s mind. Most programmes watched by children are peppered with advertisements strategically placed to bring in changes in eating or behavioural patterns. Though a study of this kind has not been conducted in India,the results are pertinent in our context,” said Dr Rajesh Sagar,Associate Professor,Department of Psychiatry,All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

The authors of the study concluded that steering children away from commercial television may help reduce childhood obesity. Non-commercial viewing,including watching DVDs or educational television programming,was observed to have no significant link with obesity.

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