Location: Children's Nutrition Research CenterTitle: Impact of commercials on food preferences of low-income, minority preschoolers Author
Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/12/2010
Publication Date: 1/16/2011
Citation: Nicklas, T.A., Goh, E.T., Goodell, L.S., Acuff, D.S., Reiher, R., Buday, R., Ottenbacher, A. 2011. Impact of commercials on food preferences of low-income, minority preschoolers. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 43(1):35-41. Interpretive Summary: Information is needed to determine whether fruit and vegetable (FV) commercials have an impact on preschool children’s preferences for specific FV. The use of food commercials is an appropriate medium of intervention to use with preschool children, based on their level of development since they are almost entirely visual and attracted to visual media. Those children that viewed the FV commercials resulted in a significantly higher preference for broccoli and carrots. The use of food commercials to promote more healthful eating behavior in young children has the potential of reaching a larger audience of ethnically diverse groups, in a cost effective manner that could be a potentially public health opportunity.
Technical Abstract: The study was conducted to determine whether fruit and vegetable (FV) commercials have an impact on preschool children’s preferences for specific FV. A year of extensive formative assessment was conducted to develop 2- 30 second commercials, "Judy Fruity" promoted apples, bananas, and "Reggie Veggie" promoted broccoli and carrots. The commercials were embedded into a 15-minute TV program. Fruit and vegetable preferences were assessed before and after 4 exposures to each of the commercials. One hundred eighty-three preschool children (39% African American; 61% Hispanic American) in four Head Start centers in Houston, Texas were involved in the study. Assessment of whether FV preferences were significantly higher in the treatment group than the control group, controlling for baseline FV preferences, age, race, and intervention dose in the model. A general linear model was used. Resulting in a significantly higher preference for broccoli and carrots (P=.02) in the intervention group compared to the control group after multiple exposures to the vegetable commercial. In conclusion, data suggest that commercials promoting vegetables may be an effective strategy to influence young children’s preferences for vegetables. This may not be the case with fruit preferences, which are already high in this age group.