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Streaming app ads linked to increased junk food consumption by teenagers

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Shillong, May 14: Young users of live-streaming gaming platforms appear to be eating more unhealthy snacks after being “bombarded” with promotional content while logged on.

“Food and drink advertisements on video game live streaming platforms (VGLSPs) like Twitch are associated with more positive attitudes towards, and purchases and intake of, unhealthy foods that are high in fat, salt and/or sugar,” according to survey-based research presented in Venice at the European Congress on Obesity.

Calling the results “concerning,” the researchers said there needs to be “stronger regulations on digital marketing of unhealthy foods to young people on these platforms,” which also include Kick, Facebook Gaming Live and YouTube Gaming.

“There is currently no effective regulation and minimal efforts to control it,” according to the team, which was led by Rebecca Evans of the University of Liverpool.

“Because VGLSPs are popular with young people, they offer an opportunity for food and drink brands seeking to engage with teenagers,” Evans said, after surveying 490 people whose average age was 17.

“Food cues on Twitch appeared at an average rate of 2.6 every hour, and the average duration of each cue was 20 minutes,” the team found, with junk food appearing over 70 per cent of the time and energy drinks 60 per cent.

The research, published by the American Medical Association, showed vending machines with clear health messages as recording “significantly lower sales of unhealthy beverages” compared to other machines. (IANS)

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