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Consumer Confidential: Low mortgage rates, formidable food ads

October 6, 2011 | 10:13 am

Homepic Here's your the-very-thought-of-you Thursday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- In the market for a mortgage? Boy, have banks got a deal for you. Mortgage rates have never been cheaper, with the 30-year rate falling below 4% for the first time in history. The interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan fell to 3.94% this week, the lowest rate since mortgage giant Freddie Mac began tracking it. Meanwhile, the average for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage also hit a record, falling to 3.26%. The dirt-cheap mortgage rates can result in considerable savings for homeowners. Compared with just three months ago, when the 30-year was at 4.60%, borrowers today can save about $40 a month per $100,000 borrowed. That comes to a savings of nearly $14,000 for every $100,000 borrowed over the life of the 30-year loan.

-- Your kids pay more attention to Madison Avenue than to you when it comes to food. Food ads have more clout when it comes to children's food selection than even an involved parent, a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests. The findings came as a surprise to researchers who were trying to determine the effect of commercials on kids' diets. Researchers from Texas A&M International University studied 75 children between the ages of 3 and 8. The children were shown a film that included two cartoons with three commercials in between each cartoon. Afterward, it turned out that the commercials had more influence over kids' decisions than the prodding of parents. Gosh, I wonder if that could be contributing to our obesity epidemic in any way ...

-- David Lazarus

Photo: If you're shopping for a new home, you can get sweet deals on loans. Credit:  Larry Downing  / Reuters