Food and Behaviour Research

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25 April 2014 - Food Navigator - Children's TV viewing habits linked to 'junk food' consumption

by Nicola Cottam

There is a correlation between children's TV screen time and higher consumption of sweetened beverages and 'junk foods' says new Swedish research.

While the potential association between TV advertising and obesity among children has been widely investigated, there has been very little research investigating the appearance of junk and sugary food in children's programmes.

Dr Steingerdur Olafsdottir at the University of Gothenburg has produced a thesis analysing the tv screen time of children aged 2-9 years old to see if there is any link to their consumption of high-calorie and low-nutrient foods, particularly sweetened beverages.

The study explored how food is portrayed in TV programmes meant for children as well as the link between their TV viewing, dietary habits and weight status.

The study focused on the presence of food in the popular Swedish children’s TV show Bolibompa.

Fruits and vegetables were shown quite frequently in the show, although usually more often in the background, said the study.

One out of every five food items displayed was high in calories and low in nutrients, such as cookies, candy and ice cream, Olafsdottir said.

“This means that there’s potential for a more health-promoting approach in the production of TV shows for children,” Olafsdottir said.