The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a new statement in the July 2011 issue of Pediatrics recommending advocacy for a ban on junk food advertising and restrictions on interactive food advertising to children via digital media.
According to the statement, “Children, Adolescents, Obesity and the Media,” ads for junk food and fast food increase kids’ desire for these foods. Studies also have shown that snacking increases while watching TV or movies. And late-night screen time can interfere with sleep, which puts kids at higher risk for obesity.
“Thirty years ago, the federal government ruled that young children are psychologically defenseless against advertising. Now, kids see 5,000 to 10,000 food ads per year, most of them for junk food and fast food,” said the statement’s lead author, Victor Strasburger, MD, FAAP, a member of the AAP Council on Communications and Media..
“We’ve created a perfect storm for childhood obesity – media, advertising, and inactivity,” Strasburger said. “American society couldn’t do a worse job at the moment of keeping children fit and healthy – too much TV, too many food ads, not enough exercise, and not enough sleep.”
Directed toward pediatricians, the statement recommends that they work with other child health advocates at the local, state and national levels for the advertising ban and restrictions. In addition, it contains recommendations to help pediatricians mitigate the effects of media on children’s and teens’ body weight, such as encouraging parents to discuss food advertising with their children as they monitor children’s TV viewing and teach them about good nutrition.