April 27th 2007
Food Is Most Advertised Product on TV Viewed by Kids, Study Finds
A new study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children of all ages are being exposed to TV commercials for junk foods at an alarming rate. The study concluded that children 8 to 12 years old viewed the most food ads, an average of 21 a day or more than 7,600 per year.
The study also examined exposure among other age groups. Teens viewed approximately 17 food ads per day or over 6,000 a year, while children ages 2 to 7 saw about 12 ads a day or 4,400 a year. The study, considered the largest ever done on television advertising aimed at kids, had researchers look at and analyze ads during 1,638 hours of TV programming on such networks as ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, the Cartoon Network, Disney, MTV, and Nickelodeon.
Vicky Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and co-author of the study, said that one thing she found to be significant about the study's findings was "that most of the food ads that kids see on TV today are for foods that nutritionists would argue children probably need to be eating less of, not more of, if we're going to get serous about tackling childhood obesity in this country … things like sugared cereals, candies, chips, fast foods, sodas, and soft drinks, which together comprise more than 80 percent of all the ads targeted at children and teens." Nearly 25 million of children and teens in the United States are either overweight or obese.
Several reports from the Institute of Medicine address the issue of food marketing to children and its role in the epidemic of childhood obesity. Food Marketing to Children and Youth says food and beverage marketing targeted to children ages 12 and under leads them to request and consume high-calorie, low-nutrient products. Both this report and Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance -- which raised concerns about this health crisis and offered a national plan of action -- call on the food, beverage, and entertainment industries to voluntarily develop and implement guidelines for advertising and marketing directed at children and youth. But if voluntary efforts fail to achieve a substantial shift toward healthier products, Congress should consider mandating changes in food and beverage advertising on television.
Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up -- a follow-up to Preventing Childhood Obesity -- assesses the nation's efforts to address childhood obesity thus far and finds that short-term outcomes are being achieved and several initiatives have shown promise, but governments at all levels should provide leadership and mobilize resources for a sustained effort to prevent childhood obesity.
Food Marketing to Children and Youth
Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance
Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
Kaiser Family Foundation study
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