Here are some tips to help you wean your child or teen off a steady stream of junk food commercials.
- Make a family rule to not eat while watching TV shows or videos. This policy should apply to watching anything on a TV, computer screen, or other electronic device. When it’s time for a snack, turn off the screen and let kids munch on fresh fruit or veggies and low-fat dip at the kitchen table or their designated eating area.
- Record programs for younger kids and view them without the advertisements. Kids under the age of eight years don’t understand that commercials sell products. Up to the age of six years, children are unable to distinguish program content from commercials, especially if their favorite character is promoting the product. Even older kids may need to be reminded of the purpose of advertising.
- Buy or rent children’s DVDs. Be sure to fast-forward through any advertisements that appear at the beginning of the video.
- Encourage kids to watch public television stations. Although some public TV programs are sponsored by companies, the products they sell are rarely shown.
- Keep tabs on food ads. Help your family tune in to food marketing. For a few days, have your older child or teen write down the types of foods and beverages advertised on shows that the family watches. When everyone’s done, review the logs together and answer the following questions: What types of foods were advertised the most? How often do you eat these foods in a week? What types of foods were advertised the least? How often do you eat these foods in a week?