Food Ads on Twitch May Be Influencing Teenagers’ Eating Habits, Study Finds

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Twitch gaming streaming can impact your nutrition more than you realize. Penn State and Dartmouth College researchers have discovered that viewing food ads on social networking sites increases the desire for and propensity to purchase nutrient-deficient items like candies and energy drinks in teenagers and young adults. The researchers published the study  in  the Public Health Nutrition journal.

Twitch exposing young adults to ads for food without nutritional value 

Users can view and discuss other users’ videos on Twitch’s content-sharing website. Even though there are feeds for sports, travel, food, and entertainment, most viewers choose to watch video game-related programming. 

Study co-author Travis Masterson said Twitch offers a similar experience as hanging out to watch a friend play a video game, but all this is done online. The streaming service has begun to monetize its material due to its rising popularity. Occasional advertisements now target younger fans who turn away from television and interactive entertainment options. Junk food and energy drinks, which have no or little nutritional benefit, frequently feature in ads.

A study that evaluated 568 Twitch users through Reddit found that viewers were more likely to remember, crave, and buy a brand of food they saw in an ad on Twitch than those that didn’t view the ad. Around 15% of the participants said they experienced cravings once they saw an ad. Interestingly 8% of the participants said that they later purchased the advertised product. Therefore, the findings imply that young individuals who spend a lot of time on Twitch are quite open to advertisements for bad eating options.

Food advertisement is pervasive. 

Masterson explained that in academic studies, they are behind on food ads. However, advertising is omnipresent because it works and businesses are aware of its mechanics. While most people know that ad campaigns can affect children, people mistakenly believe that adults are impervious to the influence of advertising after they reach adulthood and begin making their own decisions. However, that is not the case, as ad campaigns tend to be as effective on adults.

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