More and more research are uncovering how advertisements for junk food negatively influence kids to eat more of it.

A new meta-analysis in the United Kingdom found that ads significantly increase consumption of junk food in children, with both TV commercials and online ads having equally powerful effects. Other past studies provide insurmountable evidence to support the findings.

The acknowledgement that TV and online junk food ads do contribute to the junk food consumption of kids is vital, as cases of childhood obesity worldwide are ballooning. This has prompted health experts to find measures to fight against the medical condition.

TV And Online Ads Influence Kids To Eat More Junk Food

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have reviewed and assessed 22 separate studies that inspected the effects of food advertising on food consumption of kids and adults.

In each of the 22 studies, kids and/or adults were exposed to ads that promoted unhealthy food either on TV or thru the Internet. Each study then analyzed how much participants ate after being exposed to the ads, and compared the amount to how much food was eaten by participants who were not exposed to the ads.

The group of experts discovered that food consumption did not increase among adults and kids were significantly more affected by both TV and online food ads.

"Through our analysis of these published studies I have shown that food advertising doesn't just affect brand preference -- it drives consumption," said Dr. Emma Boyland, lead author of the study.

Boyland said almost all children in Westernized societies are subjected to watching huge chunks of harmful food ads on a daily basis, and that is the real concern.

She said that although some increases in food consumption are small, they are cumulative, resulting to the current global childhood obesity epidemic. Food marketing play a critical role in this area, she said.

The findings are issued in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Exposure To Food Cues

Another study published earlier this January focused on evidence that revealed the effects of exposure to food cues -- both real food and visual cues -- on people's craving, eating behavior and weight gain. Hedy Kober of and graduate student Rebecca Boswell analyzed 45 reports that involved about 3,300 participants.

The duo found a strong link between reactivity, cues, weight gain and eating. The findings, which are featured in the journal Obesity Reviews, should inspire experts to crack down on how food companies advertise to us, said Kober.

Kober wonders why experts still allow food ads when children can just sit in front of the TV, watch cartoons, and in between, they get exposed to commercials that show food that are nutritionally unhealthy such as fries, chocolate and burgers.

"[Those ads] lead them to ask [for] and want to eat those foods, and that's something we need to think about really seriously," said Kober.

Kober added that evidence is inconvertible. "If food ads are that powerful, do we really want these ads running on Sunday morning cartoon shows?"

Take Down TV and Online Ads For Junk Food

The above findings are not isolated. In fact, because ads have powerful effects on children, platforms such as YouTube Kids had been scrutinized for allowing junk food ads to run on the site.

In November 2015, two child advocacy groups filed complaints before the Federal Trade Commission when they discovered that "hundreds" of videos that promote junk food are running on the mobile app.

The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) both said that advertisers had breached the pledges that they had made as part of the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).

Meanwhile, Boyland suggests that policy makers should adapt more strategies and policy options to lessen children's exposure to food advertising, not just in the U.S., but all over the world.

However, global food expert Robert Paarlberg said there really isn't much hope for regulating food adverts.

"They're considered to be commercial protected speech, and the Supreme Court would have to weigh in to overthrow that," said Paarlberg.

Childhood Obesity Is A Global Epidemic

According to the World Health Organization, the number of overweight or obese kids under the age of five years old all over the world has skyrocketed to 41 million in 2014 from 31 million in 1990.

This meant that 6.1 percent of children under five years old were overweight or obese in 2014, a number significantly higher than that in 1990 which was 4.8 percent.

Aside from that, the number of overweight kids in low-income countries doubled over the same period, jumping from 7.5 million to a whopping 15.5 million. About 48 percent of overweight or obese kids in 2014 are all living in Asia, while a quarter are living in the States.

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