Junk food makers target kids with free online games, study says

Oct. 4, 2013, HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

Free online games promoting food products tend to emphasize high-fat or sugary products, according to researchers who looked at 143 websites marketing foods to children through the interactive games, known as “advergames.”

Featured foods tended to be low in multiple nutrients or vitamins and high in calories, sugar, and fat, said study researcher Lorraine Weatherspoon, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition and director of the didactic program in dietetics at Michigan State University, in East Lansing, Mich.

Children often see the game promoted on the food packaging, then go online to play. The games vary, but one cereal maker, for instance, has the product character featured in an interactive comic book online. A beverage maker has a game in which users “swap the sweets” — pictures of candy, cupcakes, and other treats — to make sets of three or more. Continue reading