While the World Health Organization has previously said that food advertising can directly affect the types of foods that children actually eat, a new study bears that out -- big time.

In a feature for ABC News, Dr. Laura Schopp calls the results of the study out of Australia "staggering."

Researchers sorted through 30,000 hours of TV and over 800,000 advertisements, paying special attention to the times in which children were most likely to be watching: before school and after school into the evening.

During these times, ads for snack foods like chips and popcorn, fried food and fast food, aired 1.7 times per hour.

The study calculated that an average school-aged child watched approximately 827 unhealthy food advertisements, amounting to 4 hours, in a single year.

But data from the American Academy of Pediatrics states that the average American child consumes more than 120 minutes of screen time per day -- as opposed to the 80 the Aussies estimated -- so the 827 estimate could be low for kids in the U.S.

Because of the long hours and the impact advertising can have on children, the authors of this study discuss the potential benefit of regulating unhealthy advertising on media children consume.

Childhood obesity -- defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to the 95th percentile, meaning the child weighs far more than what is ideal for their height -- is an epidemic on both a national and international scale.


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