Originally published: February 11, 2013
Last updated: February 15, 2013 - 9:50am
Researchers have long focused on the effects of cigarette and alcohol ads on children — and more recently, on the effects of subtler marketing through product placement in movies and TV shows. Studies show that advertising does help push children and adolescents toward unhealthy behaviors, but also that it is increasingly difficult to shield them as marketers exploit the Internet and social media.
In a study published last month in the journal Pediatrics, Jerry L. Grenard, a health researcher at Claremont Graduate University, and his colleagues followed almost 4,000 students from seventh through 10th grades, assessing their exposure to alcohol advertising on television and asking about their alcohol use. A large body of literature shows that advertising does increase the odds of underage drinking, Dr. Grenard noted. But his new results take the concerns a step further. “This study linked exposure to alcohol advertising to an increase in alcohol use among adolescents and then that in turn is associated with higher level of problems with drinking alcohol, getting drunk, missing school, getting into fights,” he said. Adolescents who see alcohol advertising are being sold something that we would prefer them not to consume in any amount. Food advertising raises different issues, since children will certainly eat and will certainly have — and express — food preferences.
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