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New Australian research into the effect that television commercials are having on Aussie kids has found that children who are exposed to TV ads are more likely to have poorer diets.
The study by the University of Wollongong was published in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity and explored the impact of exposure to TV food advertising on children's eating habits.
Lead researcher, accredited dietician and senior public health lecturer, Dr Bridget Kelly explains her research findings, and recommends that the government step-in to protect children from exposure to food advertising during their TV time.
"This study clearly shows that watching food ads on television is bad for children’s diets," she explains. "It’s time for Government to ‘pull the plug’ on this type of advertising and take action to limit children’s exposures."
Dr Kelly and her research team surveyed more than 400 Australian children aged between 10 and 16 to assess their TV viewing habits. The research team also measured the children's consumption of 12 frequently advertised unhealthy foods and drinks, such as fast food, sugary drinks and confectionery.
Dr Kelly explained that the more commercial TV that the children in the study watched, the poorer their diet was.
“The link between television viewing and poor diet was strongest for children who watched the most commercial television, and those who were actually exposed to advertisements embedded within programs,” said Dr Kelly.
Interestingly, the research also found that kids who avoided watching ads that interrupted their TV shows had much better diets than those who were bombarded with ‘junk food’ advertising.
Dr Kelly's earlier research into TV advertising found that Aussie kids can be exposed to six food ads every hour when they watch commercial TV, and more than half of these advertisements were about unhealthy food products.
All we can say is thank goodness for ABC Kids and ABC3 and their educational and commercial-free TV programming.

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