Yesterday I watched television for the first time since I am here in UK and as in Italy, I faced a lot of commercials especially linked with food, which of course lead to one of my greatest problem: food’s consumption.
Imagine the scene: I am relaxed, sitting on my sofa and watching a good movie. Suddenly, it stops and the commercials start to be broadcasted, nothing wrong, except that the greater part of them is food advertisements. All of a sudden I start to feel very hungry and I can’t stop myself to go and eat something, which is, the most of the time, a junk food. I know myself; I know that I’m really a weak person in this point of view but after watching those commercials, it seems that you have to eat something to make the movie much more beautiful and excited.
Since I’m not the only one who behaves like this, I start to think how influent foods’ commercials are with consumers’ behaviour. In particular, I start to think that if these ads are so effective with adults, they could have a greater effect on children.
A lot of studies confirm my assumption.
First of all, Borzekowsky and Robinson (2001) suggest that food’s commercials can actually affect pre-scholar children’s food preferences. They try to demonstrate this hypothesis in an experiment, in which children see a videotape of a famous cartoon with or without foods’ commercials. The results show that commercials have a great influence in the short-term food’s preferences. In particular, they find out that only 1 or 2 exposures are enough for 10- 30 sec. commercials to persuade children. In addition to that, I get to know that this great power is linked only with food; when the researchers make the same experiment with toys’ commercials, the children don’t seem to be so gullible as in the previous trials. The authors try to explain it with the fact that maybe children don’t choose toys leaded by short-term preferences. Moreover, in the toys’ ads, there are a lot of colour changes and this could distract children’s attention.
So, food’s commercial could have a great power on children, and on me of course, but this could become a problem if a great number of TV commercials are linked with junk food.
In this interesting article: “The effects of television advertisements for junk food versus nutritious food on children’s food attitudes and preferences”, the authors explain that the longer is the time children pass in front of the television, the more positive will be their attitude towards junk food advertisements, which are the most frequently ads broadcasted during children’s TV shows. Children who spend a lot of time watching television, start to create beliefs in agreement with the ones passed by commercials; for example, they start to think that eating food every day is a normal behaviour and that it is a good behave because a lot of people do it. For these reasons, the authors suggest that it could be useful to implement these ads with healthy food commercials. They did some researches and found out that the impact of healthy food’s commercials works only if they are not followed by the junky ones. This could be explained by the fact that the healthy ads are trying to change a normal message children get used to. In fact, children are accustomed to watch junk food commercials during their television time, so seeing different kinds of ads could not bring the expected responses.
…And then, the society is scandalised by the sharp increase of obesity among children.
I’m not so surprised. If junk food is now seen as the normal every day food, the increasing number of obese on the streets is a logical consequence. Come on, don’t hide yourself behind a finger.
The worst thing is that, as Halford, Gillespie, Brown, Pontin&Dovey (2004) demonstrate, obese and overweight children could faster recognise food’s adverts than the non-food ones. In contrast it doesn’t happen with their normal weight peers. Secondly, the results show that the view of food commercials are significantly linked with the consumption of the advertised food. Even if all children eat more after watching commercials, the amount of food’s intake is grater among overweight and obese children, even when they’re watching non-food ads.
All these researches make me think a lot about this problem and, according to the nutritional consultant, Adrienne Dorf, I think that parents have to be more involved with this problem. They should help their children to be more aware that the thing they see on screen, especially adverts are not true, and the food they see is not healthy for them.
Since we can’t change the society, we should try to start from the little things.
Regarding me, I’m a hopeless case, but I’m 24, I’m aware of everything and if I want to go with the flow, it’s only my choice and I have to face the consequences.