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'The Nag Factor': How Children Convince Their Moms To Buy Junk Food

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In the August 2011 issue of the Journal of Children and Media, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explore the notion of "The Nag Factor," defined as the "tendency of children, who are bombarded with marketers' messages, to unrelentingly request advertised items."

The study found that packaging, characters and commercials were the main forces compelling children to nag. The researchers found a predominance of three types of nagging -- juvenile nagging, nagging to test boundaries, and manipulative nagging -- with overall and manipulative nagging increasing with age.

While the mothers consistently cited 10 different methods to deal with nagging, the most common were limiting commercial exposure (36 percent) and explaining to children the reasons behind making or not making certain purchases (35 percent).

Dina Borzekowski, senior author of the study, remarked, "To address childhood obesity, it may be necessary to limit the amount of food and beverage advertising shown on commercial television and other media, as this may lessen children's nagging for unhealthy items."

The study comes at a rather opportune time as the government has been cracking down on marketing junk food ads to children. But it seems like as long as there are junk food commercials, the many manifestations of nagging will not cease.

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