New research has dispelled the conventional logic that adults are better equipped to resist junk food advertisements than children.
The study, published this week in Public Health Nutrition, interviewed 2000 Australian adults and children, and found that adults were also highly influenced by television and Internet advertising.
Health Promotion Evaluation Unit Director Professor Simone Pettigrew said the study results were particularly significant for public policy addressing childhood obesity, questioning the ability for parents to responsibly evaluate and filter the effects of advertising.
“Adults are thought to have greater immunity to advertising effects relative to children due to their greater cognitive processing abilities,” she said.
“As a result, existing food advertising regulations are focused primarily on limiting children’s exposure to advertisements for junk food. But these regulations don’t take into account the broader influence of the sheer quantity of junk food ads, which has the potential to normalise the consumption of these foods in a social sense.
“The results of our study indicate that advertising can lead both parents and children to evaluate these products more favourably and influence how desirable and acceptable they are.”