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Sugar and Sports: Age Differences in Children’s Responses to a High Sugar Cereal Advertisement Portraying Physical Activities

This study experimentally investigated whether exposing children to a television advertisement for a high sugar cereal that depicts physical activities influences their perceptions of the promoted food and activities differently than exposure to an advertisement for the same product without the depiction of physical activities. Children aged 5 to 6 and 10 to 11 years (N = 136) were compared to reveal age differences in responses to this marketing practice. Exposure to the advertisement depicting physical activities had an immediate strengthening effect on all children’s perceptions of the food’s healthfulness as well as younger children’s attitudes toward the product. The ability to recognize juxtaposed beliefs regarding a product’s healthfulness protected children from some of the influence of this marketing strategy.