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Influence of Media on Nutritional Choices in School-Age Children


A healthy diet is essential to support a child’s health and energy, especially at school age. Many factors determine the formation of food preferences, and one of the most influential is the media. Marketing uses manipulation to persuade children to choose unhealthy food. Media form a child’s daily habits, including nutrition and health routine. Now, unhealthy nutritional choices are more attractive to school-age children but have serious consequences. As a result, health problems caused by junk food, for instance, childhood obesity, are widespread globally, which causes concern and requires intervention. Attention to this problem is relevant since the spread of junk food consumption among children threatens the well-being of society, particularly this problem is prevalent in the USA. School-age children are more susceptible to media influence than adults as they are not ready to evaluate data critically. In case of the same effort to promote healthy and unhealthy foods, children will still choose harmful ones.

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The rationale for a topic is the issue’s relevance in the modern world, especially during a pandemic when it is challenging to limit Internet use for school-age children. It is possible to assume that teaching children media literacy protects the young generation from adverse marketing influence. Nurses, in turn, play a significant role in educating parents and children about healthy eating habits, which confirms the relevance of considering this issue in the EBP project. By drawing attention to the problem and contributing to its solution, the nursing community can reduce the burden on health organizations and their staff. Following the values of medicine, nurses will also demonstrate concern and care for the health of society.


Marketing for unhealthy foods, lifestyle changes due to technology, and their interconnections have negatively affected children’s health. A literature review demonstrated that obesity that spreads due to these changes is a fairly complex and common problem. An examination of data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2021) allows estimation of how many children in America are obese what are the causes and consequences. Obesity among the younger generation is becoming more frequent and has adverse health consequences.

Although the adverse effects of unhealthy nutritional choices are known, the problem has become increasingly critical recently. Greydanus et al. (2018) and Tyson and Frank (2018) discuss the history of obesity, its prevalence, and treatment possibilities. Tyson and Frank (2018) also emphasize that involving families in changing school-age children’s nutritional choices is very effective. The studies by Bragg et al. (2021) and Trude et al. (2018) highlight the impact of marketing on the choice of harmful products among children. Bragg et al. (2021) note that school-age children have difficulty in distinguishing advertising from other content, which can only increase the impact of marketing on them. Naderer et al. (2018) observed investigations on mass media induced food selections among children, as well as nutritional choices and the impact of healthy eating behavior. Thus, studies confirm the complexity of the problem and the link between media influence and junk food choices.

Researchers should pay more attention to the school-age children’s habits formation and critical marketing evaluation, particularly regarding food choices. Media literacy skills can play a crucial role in developing interventions that encourage healthy eating, and this assumption can be investigated within the EBP project. Therefore, the EBP project’s purpose is to find out if an intervention to develop skills to oppose the advertising influence can help make choices for healthy food for children. The project proposes the following PICO question: “In school-age children (P), how do media literacy skills (I) improve nutritional choices (O) compared with no such skills (C)?”


A literature search was conducted to investigate the problem and evaluate the potential of interventions to educate children and parents about resistance to media and nurturing healthy eating habits. The databases for searching sources included ERIC, PubMed, and ScienceDirect. Keywords related to children, healthy diet, nutrition, habits, media influence, parents, and their combinations served as queries. For instance, a search was conducted using “child food preferences,” “Media,” “nutritional choices,” “reasons,” “intervention,” and similar keywords.

Similar keywords were selected by collecting semantics for key queries. Tags are labels characterizing the article were used as keywords. Their use has allowed to expand the functionality of keywords and improve search efficiency. During the search, low-frequency and medium-frequency keywords were used, as well as the most extended core. This helped to find the necessary literature for the required keywords. High-frequency keywords consisted of a single word, for example, “diet” and “nutrition”. The average frequency keywords were modified phrases containing two or three words of a clarifying nature, for example, “eating habits” and “advice to parents”. Low-frequency keywords represent words and phrases with a low frequency of views and deep clarifications. Examples of such keywords are “the influence of media on children’s eating behavior” or “reasons to go on a keto diet.” With the help of the mentioned information requests, useful and exhaustive information was found.

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For search convenience, specific delimiters were established: “Clinical Trial,” “Randomized Controlled Trial,” “5 Years,” and other requirements. Scientific information is one of the most important resources for conducting research. Currently, most libraries provide remote access to electronic catalogs on their official websites, where search query parameters can also be selected. The established framework will be aimed at finding logically organized information obtained in the process of scientific knowledge and displaying reliable medical facts. Since such information is concentrated in scientific libraries, other requirements will also imply the form in which scientific data is presented. They will be defined as “scientific book”, “scientific journal”, “manuscript”, “patent” and other documents. Thus, with the help of modern information technologies of scientific information search, it is possible to find the necessary resources on the Internet and obtain scientific information with guaranteed completeness at the right time and in a form convenient for use.

Articles for analysis were selected using set inclusion and exclusion criteria, and as a result, three articles remained for analysis – Austin et al. (2020), Bala et al. (2019), Villegas-Navas et al. (2020). The included articles had to correspond to the topic, be written in English, be published in the peer-reviewed journal over the past five years, and had U.S. origin; publications not meeting these criteria were excluded.

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PRISMA Diagram


Austin, E. W., Austin, B., Kaiser, C. K., Edwards, Z., Parker, L., & Power, T. G. (2020). A media literacy-based nutrition program fosters parent – child food marketing discussions, improves home food environment, and youth consumption of fruits and vegetables. Childhood Obesity, 16(S1), S-33. Web.

Bala, N., Price, S. N., Horan, C. M., Gerber, M. W., & Taveras, E. M. (2019). Use of telehealth to enhance care in a family-centered childhood obesity intervention. Clinical Pediatrics, 58(7), 789–797. Web.

Bragg, M., Lutfeali, S., Greene, T., Osterman, J., & Dalton, M. (2021). How food marketing on Instagram shapes adolescents’ food preferences: Online randomized trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23(10), e28689. Web.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Childhood overweight & obesity. CDC Website.

Greydanus, D. E., Agana, M., Kamboj, M. K., Shebrain, S., Soares, N., Eke, R., & Patel, D. R. (2018). Pediatric obesity: Current concepts. Disease-a-Month, 64(4), 98-156. Web.

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Naderer, B., Matthes, J., Binder, A., Marquart, F., Mayrhofer, M., Obereder, A., & Spielvogel, I. (2018). Shaping children’s healthy eating habits with food placements? Food placements of high and low nutritional value in cartoons, Children’s BMI, food-related parental mediation strategies, and food choice. Appetite, 120, 644-653. Web.

Trude, A., Surkan, P. J., Cheskin, L. J., & Gittelsohn, J. (2018). A multilevel, multicomponent childhood obesity prevention group-randomized controlled trial improves healthier food purchasing and reduces sweet-snack consumption among low-income African-American youth. Nutrition Journal, 17(1), 96. Web.

Tyson, N., & Frank, M. (2018). Childhood and adolescent obesity definitions as related to BMI, evaluation and management options. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 48, 158-164. Web.

Villegas-Navas, V., Montero-Simo, M. J., & Araque-Padilla, R. A. (2020). The effects of foods embedded in entertainment media on children’s food choices and food intake: A systematic review and meta-analyses. Nutrients, 12(4), 964. Web.

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