Ask any parent about their biggest ordeal – they will almost in a cohesion speak about the turmoil of convincing the child to eat. Now, if these age-old problems were not enough, recent studies have found out that exposure of children to photo sharing apps and social media is hugely detrimental in their eating abilities.
As per the good folks in journal Pediatrics, children who have exposure to social media tend to be more prone towards snack and junk food – the image of which is most often shared on social media with plenty of aesthetics.
“The results are supported by celebrity endorsement data, which show unhealthy food endorsements increase children’s unhealthy food intake, but healthy food endorsements have little or no effect on healthy food intake,” researcher Anna Coate from the University of Liverpool in Britain said.
The aforementioned study was conducted with the primary aim of studying the effect of social media marketing of all types of snack foods (healthy and unhealthy) have in children and how they dictate their eating habits.
176 children, between 9 and 11 years were split into three equal groups and were shown different and varied Instagram pages of popular vloggers.
One Instagram page had all sorts of unhealthy snacks, the other page had healthy food and the third one was filled with non-food products. The participants’ subsequent intake of snacks (healthy and unhealthy options) was then tabulated.
The results were quite startling – Children in the group that viewed the page with unhealthy snacks started to consume 32 per cent more calories when pitted against children who viewed the non-food images. Deciphering the results, thus, became quite easy. Marketing of unhealthy foods, via such Instagram pages exponentially increased the energy intake of children.
“Young people trust vloggers more than celebrities so their endorsements may be even more impactful and exploitative,” Coates said.
“Tighter restrictions are needed around the digital marketing of unhealthy foods that children are exposed to, and vloggers should not be permitted to promote unhealthy foods to vulnerable young people on social media,” she added.