Study: Cartoon Ads Cause Junk Food Cravings in Kids

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A new study suggests animated cartoons trigger unhealthy food cravings in preschoolers.

Researchers believe using cartoon characters in television commercials attracts kids, causing them to badger their parents until they get the advertised product.  

Dina Borzekowski, the study's co-author and an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, dubbed the phenomenon "the nag factor."

"It's how 3-to 5-year-olds get their parents to get them foods they might not otherwise want to purchase," she explained.
   
Often times the foods advertised in such commercials are low in nutritional value and high in calories.

Researchers say the ads plays a role in America's growing childhood obesity rate.   
    
So what can parents do?

Experts say turn off the television. Limiting exposure to commercials will limit a child's knowledge of the products.
 
"Trying to keep them out of the reach of marketers by limiting commercial TV can help, but there's a lot of pressure to watch what other kids are watching," Borzekowski said.
    
Researchers also say parents should avoid taking their kids to the grocery store.

The results of the study are published in the August edition of the Journal of Children and Media.

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