Unhealthy food advertising is an important contributor to childhood obesity. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the impact of a food advertising literacy program that incorporated components of health-promoting media literacy education on fifth-grade children. Participants were 140 fifth-graders (10 and 11 years old) from one school who were randomly divided into three groups. Experimental Group A received a food advertising literacy program, experimental Group B received a comparable knowledge-based nutrition education program and the control group did not receive any nutrition education. Repeated measures analysis of variance and multivariate analysis of covariance were used to test mean changes between pretest, posttest and follow-up on participants' nutritional knowledge, food advertising literacy and food purchasing behavior. Results showed that, as compared with Group B and the control groups, Group A showed higher nutritional knowledge, food advertising literacy and food purchasing behavior at post-intervention, but had no significant improvements in nutritional knowledge and food purchasing behavior at the 1-month follow-up. Although some improvements were observed, future studies should consider a long-term, settings-based approach that is closely connected with children's daily lives, as this might be helpful to solidify children's skills in recognizing, evaluating and understanding unhealthy food advertising.
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