Introduction It is well established that children are exposed to food marketing promoting calorically dense, low-nutrient products. Reducing exposure to obesogenic marketing presents an opportunity to improve children's health. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which televised food advertising practices targeting children (aged 12 years) were consistent with guidelines proposed by a coalition of federal authorities known as the Interagency Working Group on Foods Marketed to Children (IWG). Methods A sample of children's TV programming aired on five national broadcast networks and two cable channels (N=103 shows) was recorded February to April 2013. The sample contained 354 food ads. Advertised products were identified and categorized using industry classification codes and nutrient data obtained from manufacturers. Product compliance with IWG saturated fat, trans fat, added sugar, and sodium guidelines was evaluated. Results Analyses conducted in 2013 revealed that nearly all food ads (94%) met guidelines for trans fats; 68% and 62% met guidelines for sodium and saturated fat, respectively; and 20% complied with added sugar guidelines. Overall, 1.4% of all child-targeted food ads met all aspects of IWG guidelines. Conclusions Nearly all food advertisements exceeded guidelines for at least one recommended nutrient to limit. Individually, conformity was high for guidelines for trans fats, moderate for sodium and saturated fats, and poor for added sugar. These findings suggest that child-targeted food advertising remains strongly biased toward less healthy options. Policymakers wishing to regulate food marketing should understand the amount and types of advertisements that children view.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health