Endorsements by vloggers increase kids' unhealthy food intake

How Instagram Exposure Could Ruin Children's Eating Habit

How Instagram Exposure Could Ruin Children's Eating Habit

One potential limitation of the study is that children were not shown pictures of food alone, which the researchers argued is not representative of how social media influencers advertise food.

When a YouTuber markets unhealthy foods, young viewers tend to eat less healthy, the study concludes.

Generally, these are people in their 20s who are successful, outgoing, positive, energetic and "highly appealing" to the younger crowd, according to Anna Coates, a doctoral student at the School of Psychology at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom. Most children between the age group of 8 and 11 have online access. About 99% children between 12 and 15 browse online and 89% use YouTube.

Social media superstars can inspire children to eat cookies and junk food, but apparently struggle at getting children to eat vegetables, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the United Kingdom recently reviewed data from 176 children age 9 to 11, who were asked to review fake Instagram profiles for two real YouTube video bloggers popular among children under 13. She correlated the effect of social media marketing of snack with an Instagram page of vloggers on child's snack intake. Totally, 176 children in three groups took part in the study. 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.

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For this study, United Kingdom researchers used 176 children between the ages of 9 and 11, and they were shown the Instagram profiles of two popular YouTubers-the study doesn't reveal the names of the YouTube stars, but it claims that one is a 26-year-old female with more than 12 million subscribers and the other is a 23-year-old male with more than 4 million subscribers. Advertisers are plenty capable of peddling these products: Watching commercials for junk food is correlated with higher calorie consumption from foods high in salt, sugar and fat, a United Kingdom study previous year found.

The kids then received an array of snacks both healthy (carrots and grapes) and unhealthy (chocolate buttons and jelly candy). The study suggested that children in the group who happened to view unhealthy snack images consumed 32 per cent more kcals from unhealthy snacks specifically and 26 per cent more kcals in total (from healthy and unhealthy snacks) as compared to children who saw the non-food images. "But more than that, unhealthy snacks are high in sugar and salt which we know has long term negative impact on overall health, contributing to diabetes and heart disease". Coates further added, "Young people trust vloggers more than celebrities so their endorsements may be even more impactful and exploitative".

On average, kids who saw junk food promotions consumed 448 calories, compared with 389 calories for children who saw healthy food marketing and 357 for those who didn't see any food promotions, the study found.

Researchers behind the study say food marketing restrictions should be applied to new forms of digital marketing - especially on social media where young people spend a lot of time.

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