An increase in sedentary TV toy ads over the years promotes an unhealthy lifestyle to these targeted Canadian children.
Researchers Kent Potvin from the University of Ottawa and C. Velkers from Queen’s University discovered between 2006 and 2013, the number of advertisements for inactive toys rose significantly, with boys continuing to be the main consumer audience.
The study, recently published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, stated Potvin and Velkers gathered this information by the methods of tracking data for toy and game ads on 27 Toronto Television stations in May of 2006 and 2013. They conducted a content analysis to establish if physical or sedentary play was promoted, as well to see what age group and gender was targeted.
The results showed in 2013 there were 3.35 toy ads/hour/children’s specialty station, which was a 15 per cent increase from seven years prior. The overall number of toy ads that encouraged inactive play reached 88 per cent, a 27 per cent growth, while ads that encouraged active play were down by 33 per cent.
Over that span of time, children that were sitting, watching their favourite shows became bombarded more and more with perfectly manipulated ads that would grab their attention and insist they keep doing just that – sitting around.
In the months of May for both compared years, a higher number of these ads were meant for boys – 1,519 rising to 2,030 in 2013. For girls, the number went from 914 to 1,619 – a substantial increase for both males and females.
According to the Government of Canada’s website, obesity rates among children and youth in this country have close to tripled over the last 30 years.
Health and weight issues that are developed during the childhood period are likely to remain a problem for the individual into adulthood.
Obese children are at risk of developing physical problems such as high blood pressure or heart disease, and diabetes, and emotional health problems including low self-esteem and depression.
Besides maintaining a balanced diet, the website explains children and teenagers should engage in at least one hour of physical activity a day and for parents to limit the amount of time children “spend on sedentary activities like watching television, playing video games, and surfing the web.”
So, with all of these ads that encourage children to partake in inactive play on a regular basis at an ever-rising rate, it’s no surprise that obesity levels are rising right along beside.
The researchers of the study concluded it would be beneficial for additional research in the years to come to focus on whether this advertising influences children’s preferences for activities and levels of physical activity.