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Kids Aware Of Unhealthy Food Logos More Likely To Be Overweight

Update Date: Jun 30, 2014 10:16 AM EDT

If a child is familiar with logos and other images from fast-food restaurants, sodas and not-so-healthy snack food brands, chances of him becoming overweight or obese is increased, a new study has found. 

A team of researchers tested kids on their knowledge of various brands and found that those who did better at identifying tended to have higher body mass indexes. 

"We found the relationship between brand knowledge and BMI to be quite robust," said Anna McAlister, an MSU assistant professor of advertising and public relations who was a member of the research team in the press release. "The kids who know most about these brands have higher BMIs."

Kids - ages 3 to 5 - were tested by being given pictures of unhealthy food-related logos. Subsequently they were given pictures of food items, packaging, and cartoon characters and asked to match the items with their corresponding brand logos. 

"The results varied, which is a good thing," McAlister said. "Some kids knew very little about the brands while others knew them exceptionally well."

"The inconsistency across studies tells us that physical activity should not be seen as a cure-all in fixing childhood obesity," McAlister said. "Of course we want kids to be active, but the results from these studies suggest that physical activity is not the only answer. The consistent relationship between brand knowledge and BMI suggests that limiting advertising exposure might be a step in the right direction too."

"From our results," she added in the press release, "it would suggest that it's not the TV time itself, but rather what is learned about these brands. It's probably the developing food knowledge, not the sedentary lifestyle."

The findings of the study were published in the journal Appetite

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