Tube-watching Kids Prefer Junk Food

Tube-watching Kids Prefer Junk Food

Tube-watching Kids Prefer Junk Food [Illustration by Anup Singh]

An interesting report on the eating habits of 91 families in neighbourhoods around Washington DC, USA, has revealed a significant set of findings: children belonging to families that watch TV regularly during mealtimes go more for pizza, snack foods and soft drinks laced with caffeine, and less for fruits and vegetables.

Brought out by Tufts University, Boston, the study was reported widely by news agencies, including Reuters and AP in January 2001. The study was released by the American Academy of Pediatrics on its website.

Lead researcher Katharine Coon, is of the opinion that television itself as well as the kind of foods advertised on it might be among the significant factors for this pattern of eating habits. She bases her findings on three “well educated hypotheses” as she calls them:

1) Increased levels of TV watching correspond with “a cluster of family food behaviours where people tend to be unfocused. They want easy routines, no muss, no fuss,” the report quotes Coon as saying. It is less fussy to grab a quick bite than fruits or vegetables that may need sitting at the dining table for dinner.

Coon also points out that the food culture that is promoted on television, too, promotes the quick bite and processed foods. In this sense, television could be seen as a marker for a particular type of family culture, feels Coon.

2) The study also reveals that television mealtime habits are found more in families with less educated mothers regarding an awareness of the qualities of food. The study also found that television watching during mealtimes was more likely in single parent households.

3) The third significant hypothesis of Coon is that the advertising blitz of foods on television could well be reinforcing the family’s “eating decisions”, says Coon.

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