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Advertisements Have Big Impact On Children's Cereal Choice

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Television commercials don't just influence adults, they can also have a big impact on the youngest of viewers. This will likely be an eye opener for parents.

For many children, breakfast kicks off the day and the staple is, of course, cereal.

"They enjoy cereal. They are big fans of marshmallows," said one parent about her children.

Many parents believe their children prefer a certain cereal because of its taste, after all, most have added sugars.

"It's not your [Wheaties], it's not your Chex, it's your Lucky Charms," said a parent when talking about his children.

"All that stuff that's not good for them. It makes it tough for a parent to get them what they need and should have," said ??

It turns out that marketing and advertising may play a bigger role in what parents end up buying for their kids.

"They young mind is like a sponge," said ?? "It's particularly sensitive to messages and persuasion."

Americus Reed is a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business. He's referring to new research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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"If you were exposed to the brand specific ad, you were more likely to consume that specific cereal," said Reed.

Data shows those flashy television ads aimed at young viewers, like those for Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Coco Puffs, directly related to children's so-called "pester power." How much they nag their parents to buy the cereals, even if those children prefer the taste of another.

"Exposure to the ad actually matters and presumable the kids had to get the cereal from the parents because the parents had to make the decision to purchase the food in the household," said Reed.

Reed says the best way for parents to prevent sugary cereals from taking over breakfast is to remember who has the final say at the checkout line.

"You can either not allow them to be exposed to the advertisement, you can allow them to be exposed, maybe they are persuaded, they bother you and you're not persuaded," said Reed.

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