Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads, says new report

Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Being bombarded by TV ads for unhealthy, high calorie food could lead teens to eat more than 500 extra snacks like crisps, biscuits and fizzy drinks throughout the course of a year compared to those who watch less TV.

The report, based on a YouGov survey, questioned 3,348 young people in the UK between the ages of 11-19 on their TV viewing habits and diet.

Responding to Cancer Research UK’s report, Professor Russell Viner, Officer for Health Promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

“The detrimental impact of junk food marketing on children and young people’s health is something the RCPCH, as well as a number of other health organisations, have long been warning of. This research appears to be the biggest UK study of its kind and, although the research was only a snapshot at one time point, its findings further supports the link between advertising and junk food consumption.

“Obesity is draining money from the NHS and is taking away childhoods thanks to the life changing conditions that are associated with it. It’s time our young people worried about being children again and not the aches and pains of joints, about their body image or about risks associated with their high blood pressure or diabetes.

“Today’s study shows the power of advertising and the true impact it has on young people’s waistlines. Companies claim that advertising merely affects what brands children and young people chose - but the evidence is growing that advertising increases the amount our children consume.
We urge Government to show it is serious about protecting children’s health by banning junk food advertising before the 9pm watershed. Only then can children reclaim their childhood.”