It’s one of the most popular games in the world and if you have a smart phone, odds are at some point or another you’ve played Candy Crush. While this game may appease our entertainment needs and help us get through commercial breaks, waiting in airport terminals, or sitting in the doctor’s office, recent research indicates that candy games like Candy Crush may actually stimulate your appetite.
Two-thirds of all children of primary-school age will play an internet game that was created to draw attention to a brand. Many of the advertisements are snacks and candy-related. Frans Folkvord, a behavioral scientist at Radboud University has earned his PhD based upon his research involving the effects of candy-themed games and advertisements on children’s appetites.
His findings are good news for marketers, but bad news for anyone who is concerned with the increasing rates of obesity, and childhood obesity which has recently become a world epidemic. The rising tides of childhood obesity stem from unhealthy eating habits, a pattern Folkvord identified in children who played games centered around food or had food advertisements.
In fact, he found that children who just recently played a game with food features ate 55 percent more of the candy offered to them than children who had played a game with an embedded toy advertisement. The behavioral scientist also tested the effects of such hidden online food advertisements on eating behaviors of more than 1000 children.
It is no surprise that Folkvord discovered that children do not recognize the games as advertisements, even when brand names and logos are clearly visible. During the five-minute break after playing food-related games, children ate 72 more calories than did children under the control conditions.
The findings have prompted Folkvord to go as far as to suggest that these types of games should be banned. The study’s results evaluate the literature on marketing to children and eating behaviors, and an empty promise from manufacturers to decrease their advertising to children. Based on the review and the study’s results, Folkvord said, “That is all the more reason to advocate a ban.”