Kids Who Know Food Brands Better, Weigh More
A study in Appetite shows that children with better knowledge about food brands are more likely to be overweight. Exercising is not enough to reduce the link between brand knowledge and weight.
- Children with a developed food brand knowledge have a higher BMI status.
- Physical exercising does not reduce the impact of food brand knowledge on BMI.
- Health campaign developers should know that children with developed food brand knowledge have a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Are TV viewing and food brand knowledge related to children’s weight status? And does exercise reduce this relationship?
Study 1: 69 3- to 5-year-olds and a parent (mean age: 5 years old; 49% boys). Most parents were female (90% mothers; mean age: 33 years old)
Study 2: 75 children 3- to 6-year-olds and a parent (mean age: 5 years old; 53% boys). Most parents were female (93% mothers; mean age: 32 years old)
Study 1: Parents filled out a questionnaire about their children's demographics. They also answered questions about the amount of time their child spent watching TV and engaged in physical activity. Children’s food brand knowledge was gathered via a task in which they had to categorize 18 picture cards. Twelve cards with either a fast-food (McDonald’s and Burger King), soda (Coca-Cola and Pepsi), chips (Fritos and Doritos), or cereal brand pair (Lucky Charms and Trix) and six irrelevant cards (e.g., swimming goggles). Successful task performance required that a child correctly identified and distinguished brands within one product category. Children’s BMI measures was obtained via the preschool’s nurse.
Study 2: The parent survey was identical to the survey of Study 1. Children’s food brand knowledge was gathered via the same task that was used in Study 1 in which children saw 18 picture cards. Twelve cards with either a fast-food (McDonald’s and Burger King), soda (Coca-Cola and Pepsi), candy (M&Ms and Jelly Belly), or cereal brand pair (Fruit Loops and Fruity Pebbles) and six irrelevant cards (e.g., swimming goggles). Children’s BMI measures was obtained via the preschool’s nurse.
Facts and findings
- Across both studies, food brand knowledge was associated with BMI. Thus, children with a high fast food brand knowledge had a higher BMI at an earlier age.
- The time children spent watching TV was not related to their BMI score.
- Physical activity did not reduce the link between of food brand knowledge and children’s BMI.
- Critical note: This study does not allow for any conclusions about cause (e.g., food bran knowledge) and effect (e.g. BMI). The results only show that a developed food brand knowledge is associated with a higher BMI and cannot say anything about what causes what.