Mass media and childhood obesity

The European Academy of Paediatrics (EAP) and the European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG) have published a report reviewing the association between mass media and childhood obesity in Europe.

Mass media are any forms of communication that reach very large numbers of people, this includes newspapers, radio, television, internet, blogging and social media. There has been evidence of a link between obesity and mass media for a number of years. Evidence suggests a link between television watching and body mass index (BMI), the type and amount of food consumed and nutritional knowledge. Research also suggests a link between the number of advertisements children view and their food choices.

Given the evidence supporting a link between mass media and childhood obesity, the EAP and ECOG have made recommendations for the correct use of mass media. These include:

Recommendations for parents

  • Limit screen time to no more than 1.5 hours a day for children aged 4 and over
  • Turn off screens during meal times
  • Do not allow televisions in children’s bedrooms

Recommendations for health professionals

  • Routinely ask parents about the family’s use of mass media
  • Advise parents to reduce children’s TV and social media use

Recommendations for teachers

  • Help students to identify and understand the aims of advertisers
  • Encourage children to reduce their TV, computer and smartphone use

For more information on media and advertising towards children take a look at MediaWise, our media literacy resource for schools. 

Posted: 27/11/2017 10:14:29 by Anne Parle
Filed under: Advertising, Children, Media, Obesity


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