Kristen Harrison and Mericarmen Peralta, both from the University of Michigan, will present their findings at the 63rd Annual International Communication Association Conference in London, Science Daily reported.
Harrison and Peralta interviewed over 100 parents about a wide variety of home and family characteristics, including child and parent media exposure and child dietary intake.
They conducted separate interviews with children in pre-schools to get a sense of what children thought made up a healthy meal.
The goal was to see how family characteristics were associated with children's dietary intake and perceptions of healthy meals.
Using food security as a marker, Harrison found that the media-junk food link was very strong among food-secure people, and almost zero among food-insecure people.
Since food insecurity is associated with limited income, it sets limits on how much people can spend on junk food.
Food-secure people, on the other hand, can afford to give in to cravings when watching food advertising. People in this category were more likely to consume junk food, and their children had distorted views on what constitutes a healthy meal.