You can lead a child to junk food, and they will certainly eat it, according to research conducted by Dr Jenny Norman, a PhD graduate from the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Wollongong.
Dr Norman completed her doctorate, Sustained Impact of Unhealthy Food Advertising on Children’s Dietary Intake in December last year, and her findings have already been cited globally and featured on Australia’s prime time news networks.
“I have a background in nutrition and dietetics, and was working in community nutrition at a local non-government organisation when an opportunity came up to work with Associate Professor Bridget Kelly in the University’s Faculty of Social Science,” said Dr Norman, who celebrated her graduation today (Thursday 7 November).
The opportunity was to join a team of researchers studying how food advertising affects the consumption of food by children.
“Even though there is evidence from all round the world that junk food advertising negatively affects children’s eating behaviours, children in Australia continue to be exposed to junk food ads across all media, every day,” Dr Norman said.
“In order to advocate for government action to protect children, research from longer term studies was needed to understand how food advertising may be linked with childhood obesity. Basically, we can’t influence the eating patterns of children until we get the food environment right and this was an interesting area of research into food marketing.
“With every study you build on the research done before. There was a lot of evidence that advertising affects what children eat, but there was a gap in the evidence concerning whether they ate less at later meals where they snacked on junk food after being shown advertising.”