Banning fast food advertisements from children’s television programs would reduce the number of overweight children in the U.S. by 18 percent and decrease the number of overweight teens by 14 percent, economists have estimated in a new study.
The researchers used several statistical models to link obesity rates to the amount of time spent viewing fast food advertising, finding that viewing more fast food commercials on television raises the risk of obesity in children. The study appears in this month’s issue of The Journal of Law and Economics.
“There is not a lot of evidence that overweight kids are more likely to watch TV than other kids,” said Michael Grossman, professor of economics at the City University of New York. “We’re arguing the causality is how many messages are aired — seeing more of these messages is leading people to put on weight.” The study’s co-authors are Shin-Yi Chou, an economist at Lehigh College, and Inas Rashad, an economist at Georgia State University.
But the researchers’ estimate relies on older data gathered in the late 1990s, according to Elaine Kolish, a spokesman for the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Since then, two of the largest fast food chains — Burger King and McDonald’s — and more than a dozen other packaged food companies have signed on to the council’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, she said, pledging to advertise only their healthier products to children under age 12….read more here..