Previous studies have focused on the acute effects of food advertisements on the caloric intake of children; however, the long-term effects of this food cue reactivity on weight gain have not been examined. The main aim of this study was to explore if reactivity to food cues in an advertisement was associated with weight status two years later.
Children wo had previously taken part in an experiment investigating the impact of advergames on food intake had their height and weight re-measured two years later, for assessment of body mass index (BMI). A within-subject design was used to test the associations between food choices and BMI over time. In the previous experiment, children played an advergame that promoted energy-dense snacks, fruit, or nonfood products, or did not play an advergame (control condition). After playing the game, the free intake of energy-dense snacks and fruits was measured.
Children who ate more apple after playing an advergame promoting energy-dense snacks had a lower BMI two years later. Consumption of energy-dense snacks after playing an advergame promoting energy-dense snacks was not associated with BMI two years later. In other condition, no association was found between food intake and BMI after two years .
The findings suggest that coping with environmental cues that trigger unhealthy eating behavior is associated with the body mass index of young children two years later. This might imply that learning to respond to food cues by choosing healthy options might prevent children from excessive weight gain. This trial was registered at as ISRCTN17013832 .