Researchers Find TV Makes Kids Fat

A posse of researchers has discovered a correlation between fast-food ads on TV and fat kids. The resulting study suggests a ban on fast-food advertisements in the country could reduce childhood obesity by 18 percent.

The study was conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research with funding from the National Institutes of Health. The project measured the time kids watched fast food ads on a weekly basis. Researchers deducted that a ban on such ads would reduce the number of fat kids aged 3 to 11, by 18 percent, and those 12 to 18, by 14 percent.

The effect was “more pronounced” for males than females.

While human behavior is generally considered a matter of personal responsibility, television does possess a marked power of persuasion--hence the cost of time sales, and the bans on liquor and tobacco ads. It’s not accident fast food is on the block as well…

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that between 1970 and 1999, the number of overweight kids ages 6-11 more than tripled to 13 percent. Among kids 12 to 19 years old, 14 percent were overweight by 1999. Overweight kids have an 80 percent chance of becoming overweight adults. The CDC says 300,000 deaths each year in the United States can be attributed to obesity.

The study also found that eliminating tax deductions for advertising would reduce childhood obesity by around 6 percent, by make ads more expensive and consequently more scarce.

While the authors of the study suggested a ban on fast-food ads, they also questioned the efficacy of such intrusive government intervention.