Advertising to Children Pediatricians Call Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

As expected to prove H3, the fourth graders could recall a median of 6 items about the ad while the first graders recalled a median of 4 items.

The ultimate conclusion of the researchers was that children "can recall a reasonable amount of information from a single exposure to a television advertisement and are capable of sharing information accurately" (Maher et al., 2006, p. 30). The authors view their work here as a beginning point for further study. In the conclusion to the article, they suggest that the next step would be to see how much children recall if they were in an unstructured environment and perhaps not paying close attention to the advertisement as the children in this experiment did.

International food advertising, pester power and its effects"

In a British study directed by Laura McDrmott, Terry O'Sullivan, Martine Stead, and Gerard Hastings the power of pestering by children was studied. Essentially, the authors define 'pester power' as the ability of children to dictate what their parents purchase based on what the child has seen on television. The point of the study was to determine if 'pestering' did influence parent purchases and to determine where children learned about products that they might want to pester for. Therefore, the study also takes into account the number of hours of children's television watched by kids who pester in an attempt to analyze advertisings effect on 'pester power'. The researchers are also concerned about the family stress created by the constant pestering by children to their parents.

Instead of conducting their own direct research, the author's of the study chose to look at the results of existing studies and synthesize those results in order to prove their point:

It is (their) contention that industry discourse underestimates the consequences of advertising directed to children as a force for prompting purchase requests in the area of food, and that there is sufficient internationally acknowledged evidence from high-quality studies to support this view." (McDermott et al., 2006, p. 514)

Ultimately, the authors are looking for the negative food habits of children that may result from pestering for food that they term as junk food.

To complete their work, the author's looked at 12 existing studies. Eight of the studies were from North America, two from the UK, and one each from India and Saudi Arabia. The author's determination based on the evaluation of these studies supported the idea that kid's pester for certain items that they have seen advertised and that parents frequently give into that pestering at the grocery store. The findings show that children are successful about half of the time when pestering for an item. The rate of pestering is quite high. In one of the studies, kids asked for some item every two minutes in the store. The items most frequently asked for were in the categories of high-sugar cereal and sweets.

Since one of the main points of the research was to look advertisings effect on 'pester power', the researchers looked at several studies that included material about television watching habits, particularly programming geared toward children.

One study from 1975 supported the idea that Saturday morning cartoon watchers requested kid's cereals and sweets more often. However, another study from 1989 found a weak association between television watching and requests for items. In two other studies when kids were asked if they requested food items based on advertising that they had seen, the results are more conclusive. Nearly 50% of kids admitted that they had requested food based on advertising or had purchased it themselves.

Ultimately, the authors determine that "food promotion does encourage children to request food purchases by their parents. All studies found either a significant effect or (non-causal) association between the two" (McDermott, et al., 2006, p. 532). They concluded that "pester power' does exist and it is having a negative effects on what children our eating which is contributing to the growing problem of obesity amongst the world's youth.


Based on these four readings, there is an undeniable link between the advertising to which children are exposed and their eating habits. The eating habits of children in both the U.S. And other developed nations continue to decline and, as a result, more and more kids every year are listed as obese. The continuation of this situation could be absolutely devastating for future generations of world citizens. The American Academy of Pediatricians is concerned about the kinds of health problems that its members may encounter as they treat these young, obese patients.

Other researchers are concerned about the same issue and all of them are attempting to determine some sort of fix for the problem.

The last two articles concerning the studies are taking a very logical approach by looking at the root of the problem. These studies and many others like them want to be able to scientifically say that the "junk food" consumption of children has derived from how influenced children are by advertising and how much children are able to influence their parents to purchase food that they have seen advertised known as 'pester power'. The Federal Trade Commission and other U.S. agencies also want to sound the alarm about what children are consuming by analyzing the ways that those products are promoted and advertised.

Advertising definitely impacts what children want their parents to purchase. These wants are driven by the colorful, fun commercials marketed to children and shown during children's programming. This is the place where change has to occur and it has to be supported by all of the players involved. It is clear from the research that adults, whether they are parents, doctors, school officials, CEOs or others who impact children's lives, need to be aware of their responsibilities to youth. The continuous exposure to "junk food" advertisement on television or other electronic sources and in schools is making kids fat. There is no other way of putting it.

Can we expect kids to control this for themselves? Six-year-olds are not going to make healthy food choices when unhealthy foods have colorful and vibrant commercials or feature their favorite Disney Princess. Adults must do the work. All the scientific data points in the same direction. Control what kids are exposed to and they will not desire foods that they do not know exist. Will the food industry have to react to this? Of course. They probably will of their own accord as the second article suggests. The food industry does not want to be accused of being the big bad wolf or, perhaps more importantly, they do not want to be sued and assume financial liability for the problems of obese children.

Ultimately, the issue becomes legal and governmental. If companies do not self-correct and parents do not say no to their children, the government will make the effort much like it did with tobacco. This is true in both the United States and the United Kingdom. As stated, various U.S. government groups are already involved and, in the U.K., the government has threatened to take legislative action if changes are not made in the way that food is promoted to children (McDermott et al., 2006). This is everyone's problem and everyone's responsibility to correct.


FTC not sweet on junk-food ads targeting children. (2006, Nov. 7). The Washington

Post, p. A1.

Maher, J, Hu, M. & Kolbe, R. (2006). Children's recall of television ad elements.

Journal of Advertising, 35(1), 23-33.

McDermott, L., O'Sullivan, T., Stead, M. & Hastings, G. (2006). International food…

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