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Low-Fat Food Ads No Help To Kids

If parents have a hard time making the right food choices that optimize their health, it's unreasonable to expect their kids to be any better at it, even when those options are in front of them, especially on TV. Along those same lines, a University of Illinois study found the more TV kids watch, the more confused they are about which foods are the healthiest.

More than 130 children in grades 1-3 responded to a questionnaire that measured their nutritional knowledge, nutritional reasoning and TV viewing, once at the beginning of the study and six weeks later. (By the way, these kids averaged 28 hours of TV viewing a week!)

Increased television viewing had a double-negative effect on the children in the study. Regardless of their initial nutritional knowledge, the more TV they watched, the less able they also were "to provide sound nutritional reasons for their food choices," according to the lead researcher. What confused kids the most: Foods being marketed to aid in weight-loss. Using the descriptors diet or fat-free made kids more prone to select fat-free ice cream or a diet soft drink over more nutritious choices.

Take those results, along with previous studies that have shown almost 98 percent of the TV food ads aired on weekend morning programs featured unhealthy foods (more than 78 percent on weekend evening shows) and you have a recipe for disaster. Namely, the childhood obesity epidemic.

If you want to get a better handle on your child's health, here's three things you can do to make an impact today:

Yahoo News June 17, 2005

University of Illinois News Bureau June 6, 2005

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