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Teens’ Junk Food Consumption Spikes After Watching Gaming App Ads


Ads on online streaming platforms can influence junk food consumption. (Photo: iStock)

Many teens are fond of playing online video games on their phones, laptops, or tablets. With the growth of live streaming platforms like Twitch, people also broadcast their play sessions to the world or watch others do the same. In a new study, researchers from the University of Liverpool studied the impact of junk food advertisements through such video game livestreaming platforms (VGLSPs) on teens’ consumption of such foods. The study revealed that watching these unhealthy food and drink advertisements promoted adolescents (aged 12-18 years) to increase their purchase and consumption of unhealthy foods that are high in fat, salt, and/or sugar such as energy drinks.

Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming Live were the top video game livestreaming platforms (VGLSPs) globally at the time of the research. VGLSPs are increasingly gaining more and more popularity, with nearly 30 billion hours of content viewed on the top three platforms in 2023.

Video game live-streaming platforms are quite popular among young people, who are moving away from television to such platforms. Food and drink brands are using these platforms to engage with teenagers and market their products.

Also Read: Fast Food Vs. Junk Food: What’s The Difference? Which Is Worse For Health?

Lead author Dr Rebecca Evans from the University of Liverpool explains, “Endorsement deals for prominent streamers on Twitch can be worth many millions of dollars, and younger people, who are attractive to advertisers, are moving away from television to these more interactive forms of entertainment. These deals involve collaborating with brands and promoting their products, including foods that are high in fats, salt, and/or sugar.”

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Photo Credit: iStock

According to Dr Evans, “The high level of exposure to digital marketing of unhealthy food could drive excess calorie consumption and weight gain, particularly in adolescents who are more susceptible to advertising. It is important that digital food marketing restrictions encompass innovative and emerging digital media such as VGLSPs.”

The concerning findings prompted researchers to call for stronger regulations on the digital marketing of unhealthy foods to young people on these platforms, where there is currently no effective regulation and minimal efforts to control it. The findings of the research are being presented at this year’s European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Venice, Italy (12-15 May).

Also Read: Why You Must Start Every Meal With A Plateful Of Veggies – Biochemist Explains

Tips to Promote Healthy Eating and Prevent Obesity Risks

The following healthy tips have been shared by Consultant Nutritionist Rupali Dutta:

1. Keep the intake of sugar to less than 10% of your total calories.

2. Do not skip meals and eat three balanced meals a day. Take a standard dinner plate, fill 1/2 with vegetables, 1/3 with cereal, 1/3 with protein, and add 150 ml of milk/dahi/dessert.

3. Snack on seasonal fruits, keep whole fruits easily available for family members to pick up.

4. Keep your fridge free of sugary aerated drinks and processed fruit juices. Keep fresh aam panna, jal jeera, kanji, and buttermilk, as per the season.

5. Meals should be eaten at the dining table and not in front of the TV.

Note: These tips are not part of the study.

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