Nutritional Content of Food and Beverage Products in Television Advertisements Seen on Children's Programming
journal contributionposted on 2016-04-12, 00:00 authored by Lisa M Powell, Rebecca M Schermbeck, Frank J Chaloupka
Background: Given the high rates of childhood obesity, assessing the nutritional content of food and beverage products in television (TV) advertisements to which children are exposed is important. Methods: TV ratings data for children 2–5 and 6–11 years of age were used to examine the nutritional content of food and beverage products in advertisements seen by children on all programming and children's programming (≥35% child-audience share). Nutritional content was assessed based on the federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) recommended nutrients to limit (NTL), including saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and sodium. Results: A total of 46.2% of 2- to 5-year-olds' and 43.5% of 6- to 11-year-olds' total exposure to food and beverage TV advertising was for ads seen on children's programming. Among children 2–5 and 6–11 years, respectively, 84.1 and 84.4% of ads seen on all programming and 95.8 and 97.3% seen on children's programming were for products high in NTL, and 97.8 and 98.1% of Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) company-member ads seen on children's programming were for products high in NTL, compared to 80.5 and 89.9% of non-CFBAI product ads. Conclusions: Most food and beverage products in TV ads seen by children do not meet the IWG nutrition recommendations and less than one half of such ads are covered by self-regulation. Products advertised on children's versus general-audience programming and by CFBAI- versus non-CFBAI-member companies are particularly of low nutritional quality, suggesting that self-regulation has not successfully protected children from exposure to advertising for unhealthy foods and that continued monitoring is required.