Advergames – online games for products or brands – which aim to promote the consumption of fruit among children do not lead to children eating more fruit. Children actually eat more snack foods instead of fruit after playing these games.
These are the findings of research conducted by communication scientists at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Their findings will be published in the journal The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Moreover, it appears that playing an advergame where food is promoted, regardless of whether it is for snack food or fruit, actually leads to a higher caloric intake in these children, as opposed to children playing an advergame promoting toys, or children playing no game. Children who play an online game containing advertising for fruit or snack foods, eat considerably more fattening snack foods than other children.
The UvA scientists – Frans Folkvord, Doeschka Anschutz, Moniek Buijzen and Patti Valkenburg –examined how playing advergames that promote fruit and energy dense snacks effect the food intake of children. Advergames are increasingly used to advertise products, especially by food manufacturers.
As part of the research, 270 children (between 8 and 10 years old) were randomly divided into four groups. One group of children played an advergame promoting snack foods, one group played a game promoting fruit, and another group played an advergame promoting toys. A final group of children served as a control group and played no game. After playing the advergame, the children were allowed to eat freely from numerous bowls of fruit and snack foods for five minutes. The control group started immediately with the eating part of the research. After dinner, the children filled in a questionnaire and the height and weight of the children were measured.
Frans Folkvord, Doeschka J. Anschütz, Moniek Buijzen and Patti M. Valkenburg: ‘The effect of playing advergames That Promote energy-dense snacks or fruit on actual food intake among children.’ The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Feb. 2013 vol. 97 No. 2 239-245, published online on 26 December 2012).