Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study in which they compared parents watching TV with commercials and parents watching commercial-free TV, such as with recorded TV, DVDs, etc.
Kristen Harrison and Mericarmen Peralta, both of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), will present the conclusions of their study at the 63rd Annual International Communication Association (ICA) conference, which is to be help on June 17-21, 2013, in London, England.
They basically conclude that commercial TV viewing by parents, when compared to commercial-free TV viewing by parents, is associated with more consumption of junk food by their children.
The pair of researchers interviewed over 100 parents. One of the topics asked of the parents by the researchers was the amount of media time the family was exposed to in their daily lives. Another topic asked was their child’s/children’s dietary intake.
Harrison made the following statement: "Even though parents and other caregivers are the primary gatekeepers regarding young children's food intake, children are still learning about food as it relates to health from family, media, and other sources, and may use this knowledge later on to inform their decisions when parents or other adults aren't there to supervise them."
Further, Harrison added, "The preschool years are especially important, because the adiposity rebound in kids who grow up to be normal weight tends to be around age 5 or 6, whereas for kids to grow up to be obese, it happens closer to 3. We need to know as much as we can about the factors that encourage obesogenic eating during the preschool years, even if that eating doesn't manifest as obesity until the child is older."
For more on this story, please read the EurekAlert article “Parents with heavy TV viewing more likely to feed children junk food”.