Dartmouth, New Hampshire – A recent study found that fast-food television ads directed at children are actually very effective as they play a big role in increased consumption.

Findings published in The Journal of Pediatrics showed that the more often kids watched TV channels that advertised children’s fast-food meals, the more often their families tend to attend the restaurants in those ads.

According to researchers, TV ads for fast-food restaurants that target children have a strong influence on families, especially if they offer a free toy. Credit: Bet.com

Researchers studied 100 children, aged 3 to 7, and analyzed one of the parents. The investigation focused on how often kids watched four children’s TV channels; if the kids asked to go to the two national fast-food chains advertised in those channels; if the children collected toys from those restaurant chains; and how often the families visited those fast-food restaurants.

Fast-food ads showed effectiveness in almost 80 percent of the ads aired on those four children’s networks, according to the researchers. Thirty-seven percent of parents said their families made more frequent visits to the two fast-food chains and 54 percent of kids asked to go to at least one of the restaurants.

Given the worrisome nature of the study’s findings, study lead Jennifer Emond of Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine warned that fast food ads do have a great influence on young children, and may indeed drive these unhealthy eating habits.

“For now, our best advice to parents is to switch their child to commercial-free TV programming to help avoid pestering for foods seen in commercials,” Emond warned parents in a journal news release.

Also, the study found that ads were even more effective when they included toys: from 29 percent of children who collected toys from the chains, nearly 83 percent asked to go to one or both of the restaurants. Also other factors like having more TVs at home, a TV in the child’s bedroom, children watching TV during the day, and spending more time watching the children’s networks that aired most of the child-targeted ads influenced on consumption rates.

Source: Philly