Children eating to much junk food has been an increasing health issue for some time. Government’s have recognised it as a major problem supported by an ever increasing number of studies linking excessive consumption of junk food with significant health problems.
The Daily Telegraph reports that every hour a child spends on line increases chance of buying junk food by a fifth.
According to a Cancer Research UK survey of around 2,500 children, found that those children who indulged in the internet or watched television for more than half an hour a day, were more likely to want to indulge in unhealthy food that contain high saturated fat content, sugar and salt.
Although previous studies of children’s junk food consumption and advertising have mainly been geared at their television watching habits, studies now include children being on line.
The research uncovered that children of primary school age spent an average of 16 hours a week on the internet and that 4 of the most popular websites the children used were commercial sites displaying online advertising. That compares to an average of 22 hours of television a week, 12 hours of which was on channels that show adverts.
The study found links between children watching television and the internet and their likelihood of being overweight, asking for and buying junk food and eating certain types of junk food. Although the time children spent on line or watching commercial television wasn’t linked to their activity levels.
Each additional hour children spent watching commercial TV was linked to:
- A 16% increase chance in them consuming sweets and crisps;
- An 18% increased chance of them consuming pastries;
- A 21% increased chance of children buying food they’d seen advertised;
- A 22% increased chance of children asking parents for food they’d seen advertised;
- A 23% increased chance of them consuming drinks containing sugar.
Each additional hour children spent on line was linked to:
- A 9% increased chance in children consuming sugary drinks;
- A 12% increased chance in children consuming sweets;
- A 13% increased chance of them consuming pastries and sweet biscuits;
- A 19% increased chance of children asking for the food they’d seen advertised;
- A 19% increased chance of children buying food they’d seen advertised.
The research also found that children who watched more than 3 hours of commercial television a day were 59% more likely to be overweight than those who watched half an hour a day or less, and those children who used the internet more than 3 hours a day we’re 79% more likely to be overweight or obese, than children who used the internet half an hour a day or less.
Cancer Research UK has called on the government to ban junk food altogether.