Development of TV advertising literacy in children: Do physical appearance and eating habits matter?

Julia Spielvogel and Ralf Terlutter

Alpen-Adria Universitaet Klagenfurt

Introduction

Advertising literacy – the ability to recognise, evaluate and understand advertising (Malmelin 2010) – is seen as important in children’s maturation into informed and competent consumers. Over the last 40 years, the age of a child has been regarded as the most critical factor influencing the development of advertising literacy. Nevertheless, many empirical studies show significant differences between same-aged children in this respect (Roedder John 1999; Oates et al. 2003). Obviously, there are other factors that also make an impact. While research has focused on the influence of parents, school or TV exposure, etc., little attention has been devoted to children’s personal characteristics. The purpose of this study is to show that factors related to physical appearance – body mass index (BMI), body shape perception and self-esteem – as well as factors related to eating habits – food choice, perceived attitude of parents towards food and children’s critical attitude towards food – also drive or impede advertising literacy.