May 2 2012

More Efforts To Blame Advertising for Childhood Obesity

Julie Gunlock

Researchers at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre in New Hampshire have no doubt made a few FDA regulators very happy this week. Why?  Because they have finally managed to cobble together research that purports to show a connection between television ads and childhood obesity.  The Daily Mail reports (emphasis mine):

The results were were based on a survey of 3,342 young people aged 15 to 23 from across the US. Lead researcher Dr Auden McClure, from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Centre in New Hampshire, US, said: ‘We know that children and adolescents are highly exposed to fast-food restaurant advertising, particularly on television. 'This study links obesity in young people to familiarity with this advertising, suggesting that youth who are aware of and receptive to televised fast-food marketing may be at risk for health consequences.’

Huh…you know, I’m not a super smart doctor from Dartmouth College but I can glean two other results from this research:

  1. Kids are spending too much time sitting on their butts watching television (where they see television advertisements) instead of playing outside, and
  1. These children’s parents are exhibiting scant use of a little devise called the remote control while clearly dolling out too many dollars to feed their children’s fast food cravings insead of feeding them home-cooked meals.

There’s a reason the largest study on childhood obesity (conducted at Ohio State University in 2010) concluded there are only three things that keep kids healthy: less television, earlier bedtimes, and family dinners at least 5 times a week.  It’s called parenting, Mr. Super Smarty Pants Dartmouth Researcher.

Unfortunately, we’re likely to see this study cited over and over again by the Food and Drug Administration which is still itching to regulate the marketing of food on television (I wrote about those efforts here and here).

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