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Did you know $1.8 billion dollars is spent on marketing foods to school-aged youth? Or that the average child sees 12-16 advertisements per day promoting food products high in children-403583_640saturated fat, sugar, or sodium?

These statistics have created public scrutiny on the food advertised to children. In 2006, the Better Business Bureau formed the Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), made of leading food companies in the U.S. and designed to address the poor nutritional content of food advertisements. As a result, The current $1.8 billion dollars spent on child food advertising is actually a decrease from the $2.1 billion dollars previously spent in 2006.

 Yet, the overall landscape of food commercials has shown little improvement since the CFBAI’s inception. Even in 2013, over 84% of all food commercials seen by children and 95% of ads aired specifically during children’s programming featured products high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and sodium.  These outcomes led researchers to call for increased scrutiny over CFBAI members’ efforts to market healthier products. In December 2014, the CFBAI responded by creating “Uniform Nutrition Criteria” for child food advertising: the results of this still remain to be seen.

 In the meantime, we are left knowing the majority of the food commercials U.S. children watch are for unhealthy foods. But does this really matter? Do food advertisements influence our children? The answer to this is ‘yes.’ Research has shown nyc-944407_640food advertisements directly influence children’s food preferences, nutrition knowledge, purchase behaviors (through parents), food consumption habits, and nutrition-related health. In other words, the food advertisements our children see influence their daily food choices.

Why does this matter to families? In order to promote healthy diets in youth, we must be able to help them overcome this constant marketing of unhealthy foods. One means to help address these unhealthy messages is to work as a family to promote our own healthy messages & themes about food.

Analyses of children’s food commercials have shown that their most common themes include the offer of premiums (toys or discounts), promotional characters (stars, TV characters, and company characters), health-claims, taste, and fun. All of these themes work well to gather children’s interest and to make their products familiar.

Obviously families can’t create their own advertisements on food. But families can harness the themes consistently used across food commercials to promote trying healthy food in their homes.

Consider the discussions you have with your children on consuming vegetables, fruits, or whole grains: How often do you describe the fruits and vegetables as ‘tasty’? Make them fun? Or associate them with a popular character?

If your experiences are like mine, these themes are rarely used to promote healthy food consumption.  But why not? Fruits are diptasty. Dunking vegetables in dips can be fun, and encouraging your toddler to consider what “Captain America” eats can always be used to make foods memorable. The most important step families can take is to talk with kids about healthy foods in a positive, fun light.

Our children are living in a world where they are constantly exposed to product messages—the majority being unhealthy. This is slowly changing. We can help encourage this change and make healthy food messaging more common by using the companies’ proven themes to encourage youth to desire and choose healthy foods when at home.

Reviewed by Michelle Treber, OSU Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences

Sources:

Powell, L. M., Harris, J. L., & Fox, T. (2013). Food marketing expenditures aimed at youth: putting the numbers in context. American journal of preventive medicine45(4), 453-461.

Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) (December 2014). A report on compliance and progress during 2013. Council of Better Business Bureau.

Powell, L. M., Schermbeck, R. M., & Chaloupka, F. J. (2013). Nutritional content of food and beverage products in television advertisements seen on children’s programming. Childhood Obesity9(6), 524-531.

Cairns, G., Angus, K., Hastings, G., & Caraher, M. (2013). Systematic reviews of the evidence on the nature, extent and effects of food marketing to children. A retrospective summary. Appetite, 62, 209-215.

Jenkin, G., Madhvani, N., Signal, L., & Bowers, S. (2014). A systematic review of persuasive marketing techniques to promote food to children on television. Obesity reviews, 15(4), 281-293.

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sitting1Like obesity or smoking prior to it, “sitting” looks to be the latest lifestyle challenge with a current focus in the news. A recent study suggests that sitting for prolonged periods of time increases risk for chronic disease, even among people who exercise regularly. Researchers conducted a review and meta-analysis of published research to evaluate the association between sedentary time and health outcomes.

Evidence showed that prolonged sitting is associated with negative health outcomes and mortality. The most pronounced outcomes were in people who never exercise or do so only occasionally. Excessive sitting can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Even exercising the recommended half-hour a day may not be enough to ward off the long term effects of sitting.

The human body is meant to move, not sit still. “The leg muscles are the largest in the body, in terms of skeletal muscle,” says Peter Katzmarzyk, a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA. “When you sit, you’re deactivating them.” Our metabolism begins to slow down in as short a time frame as one hour. As it declines, the body becomes less efficient at removing sugar and fat from the bloodstream, causing them to build up and insulin levels to spike.

TV watching is the most widely studied form of sedentary activity because people tend to have a good idea of how much television they watch. It’s estimated that every hour spent watching TV shortens your lifespan by 22 minutes. Yikes!

And even if you’re not a big TV watcher, it’s likely you’re still sitting. Looking at an iPad, computer, video game, or even relaxing with a book are most likely done in the sitting position. Time spent sitting at your desk at work or in a car is a little harder to quantify, but adds to the daily total. Medical consensus? Too much sitting is deadly—no matter what kind.

Tips to Reduce Sedentary Time

Are there opportunities in your daily routine to move more? Review the following suggestions to see if any of these tips will work for you.

• Take a 1-3 minute break every half hour to stand or move around.
• Stand up while watching TV. Even better, use the opportunity to walk on a treadmill, swing a hula hoop, or do some push-ups.
• Invest in a standing desk at work. If a purchase is not possible, think about sitting on an exercise ball instead of a regular chair for part of the day. Balancing on a ball helps strengthen core muscles.
• Set the alarm on your phone or get an app that will give you regular dings to remind you to get up and move. Sometimes when we’re really involved in a project or assignment, it’s easy to lose track of time.
• Repetition. Once you make movement a priority, it will be easier to remember to get UP.

Bottom Line
There’s a quote that asks, ‘What fits your busy schedule better: Exercising an hour a day or being dead 24 hours?” When stated in those terms, exercise (even if it’s just standing) doesn’t look so unappealing, does it?

Written by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Liz Smith, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19346988

http://www.sedentarybehaviour.org/tag/peter-katzmarzyk/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404815/

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