Children who see social media influencers promote unhealthy food are more likely to adopt bad diets, according to a new study.
Researchers from the New University of Liverpool in the U.K. showed three groups of children, 9 to 11-years-old, fabricated Instagram pages of real social media influencers with over a million followers. One group was shown images of the social media influencer with unhealthy snacks, another group shown the influencer with healthy snacks and the third was shown the influencer with non-food items. The study, which was published Monday in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics, included a total of 176 children.
Children who were shown images of unhealthy snacks ate 32 percent more calories compared to the other children — about an extra 90 calories per day.
Kids in the healthy food and non-food groups had no significant change in diet.
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“Tighter restrictions are needed around the digital marketing of unhealthy foods that children are exposed to, and vloggers should not be permitted to promote unhealthy foods to vulnerable young people on social media,” study author Anna Coates said in a statement.
More: Mom’s lifestyle could be key to childhood obesity, study suggests
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