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Open AccessArticle

A “Forbidden Fruit Effect”: An Eye-Tracking Study on Children’s Visual Attention to Food Marketing

1
Advertising and Media Effects Research Group, Department of Communication, University of Vienna, Währinger Straße 29, 1090 Vienna, Austria
2
Department of Media and Communication, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich; Oettingenstraße 67, 80538 Munich, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1859; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061859
Received: 31 January 2020 / Revised: 9 March 2020 / Accepted: 11 March 2020 / Published: 13 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Health Economics)
Obesity in children is an international health concern. Against this background, there is an increasing interest in understanding how healthy and unhealthy food marketing in narrative media can affect children. In particular, children’s implicit reactions, such as visual attention and emotional arousal, are far from being sufficiently understood. We conducted an eye-tracking study, presenting children one of two versions of a narrative media-stimulus, either presenting an unhealthy food (i.e., candy condition; N = 34), or a healthy food (i.e., fruit condition; N = 34). As dependent variables, we investigated dwell time (i.e., visual attention) and pupil dilation (i.e., emotional arousal). As moderators, we included children’s prohibition of candy at home and children’s level of BMI in our models. Our results indicate that mean dwell time did not differ between conditions and that the moderators did not exert any effect. Moreover, pupil dilation did not differ between conditions but was moderated by parents’ candy prohibition at home (ηp2 = 0.080). The results show that children who are not allowed to consume candy at home react with higher emotional arousal when exposed to candy placements than children allowed to eat candy at home. Thus, depending on children’s contextual factors, children react differently to unhealthy food cues. View Full-Text
Keywords: healthy and unhealthy food marketing; public health; children; eye-tracking; pupil dilation; parents; candy prohibition healthy and unhealthy food marketing; public health; children; eye-tracking; pupil dilation; parents; candy prohibition
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Binder, A.; Naderer, B.; Matthes, J. A “Forbidden Fruit Effect”: An Eye-Tracking Study on Children’s Visual Attention to Food Marketing. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 1859.

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