Food advertising literacy training reduces the importance of taste in children's food decision-making: a pilot study
This 2018 study investigated whether food advertising literacy training influences children’s food choices, with a particular focus on its effect on the manner in which children weigh the importance of taste characteristics in their food decisions. Of the 39 participants (aged 8-13 years), twenty-three children had four sessions of food advertising literacy training. During these sessions, 4 food commercial videos were shown to the audience in the lab during the first and last week, and in their houses during the second and third week. Some commercials included factual narratives that may build cognitive defenses, while others were presented with evaluative narratives. Children were encouraged to think aloud while watching these advertisements and even provided narratives. The young subjects were also asked to rate 60 food items in terms of health and taste. The aim was to test whether these taste and health attributes predict variance in the children’s food choices. The kids’ taste ratings given after completing the training was significantly lower than those documented before these commercial-viewing sessions. Thus, enhancing food advertising literacy may help reduce the effect of taste attributes in the food decision-making processes. Furthermore, viewing food adverts designed to build cognitive defenses led to an increase in critical thinking towards commercials. Food advertising literacy training may help attenuate the importance of taste in the participants’ food decisions. The 16 children in the control condition who watched 4 videos of food commercials without narratives showed no change in their food choices. Ha et al. believe that food advertising literacy training has a big role to play in the promotion of healthy eating and the prevention of childhood obesity in the future.