Fast-food advertising ban would reduce child obesity

by Staff
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BETHLEHEM, PA. — A ban on fast-food television advertisements in the United States may reduce the number of overweight children by up to 18%, according to a study being published in the Journal of Law and Economics.

The study was conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, and it also found eliminating the tax deductibility associated with television advertising would result in a reduction of childhood obesity but at a lower rate.

"We have known for some time that childhood obesity has gripped our culture, but little empirical research has been done that identifies television advertising as a possible cause," said Shin-Yi Chou of Lehigh University, a N.B.E.R. economist. "Hopefully this line of research can lead to a serious discussion about the type of policies that can curb America’s obesity epidemic."

The study found banning fast-food advertisements on television during children’s programming would reduce the number of overweight children ages 3 to 11 by 18% and lower the number of overweight adolescents ages 12 to 18 by 14%.

The researchers believe a ban would be effective, but they also question whether such a high degree of government involvement is a practical option. Currently Sweden, Norway and Finland are the only countries that have banned commercial sponsorship of children’s programs.

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