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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2013, Article ID 408582, 13 pages
Research Article

Experimental Evidence on the Impact of Food Advertising on Children’s Knowledge about and Preferences for Healthful Food

1Copenhagen Business School, Porcelaenshaven 18, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
2National Research Council, Institute of Food Sciences, Via Roma, 52 A/C, 83100 Avellino, Italy
3Ghent University, De Pintelaan 185 Blok. A-2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
4University of Zaragoza, Domingo Miral s/n, 50009 Zaragoza, Spain
5University of Bremen, Achterstraße 30, 28359 Bremen, Germany

Received 13 November 2012; Accepted 1 March 2013

Academic Editor: Jana Pařízková

Copyright © 2013 Lucia A. Reisch et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


To understand the rising prevalence of childhood obesity in affluent societies, it is necessary to take into account the growing obesity infrastructure, which over past decades has developed into an obesogenic environment. This study examines the effects of one of the constituent factors of consumer societies and a potential contributory factor to childhood obesity: commercial food communication targeted to children. Specifically, it investigates the impact of TV advertising on children’s food knowledge and food preferences and correlates these findings with their weight status. Evaluations of traditional information- and education-based interventions suggest that they may not sustainably change food patterns. Based on prior consumer research, we propose five hypotheses, which we then test using a subsample from the IDEFICS study, a large-scale pan-European intervention study on childhood obesity. The results indicate that advertising has divergent effects on children’s food knowledge and preferences and that food knowledge is unrelated to food preferences. This finding has important implications for both future research and public policy.