Bad ads: sweets commercials are down, junk food ads are up

July 13, 2010 by  
Filed under OBESITY

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Many countries are regulating adds on TV to protect children from the adverse influence of junk food ads on their eating habits. But what sort of ads are our kids exposed to? And are the regulations really working? The results of a recent study published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine are a bit disappointing. While ads about sweets and sugared drinks have decreased, the ads of junk food are as prevalent as ever.

The researchers analyzed TV commercials from 2003 to 2007 with there following results:

  • Daily exposure to food ads decreased by 13.7% in the 2 to 5 age group.
  • Exposure decreased by 3.7% in the 6 to 11 age group
  • Exposure increase by 3.7% in the 12 ro 17 age group.

Most of the decrease was attributed to decrease in commercials for sweets, as follows:

  • Daily exposure to commercials for sweets decreased by 41% in the 2 to 5 age group.
  • Exposure decreased by 29% in the 6 to 11 age group
  • Exposure increase by 12.1% in the 12 ro 17 age group.

Exposure to sugared beverages decreased by 27 to 30% in all age groups.

However, when it comes to junk food commercials, the picture looks different.

  • Daily exposure to junk food ads increased by 4.7% in the 2 to 5 age group.
  • Exposure increased by 12.2% in the 6 to 11 age group
  • Exposure increase by 20.4% in the 12 ro 17 age group.

Those of you who watched the World Cup Finals in Johannesburg, South Africa last Sunday night would have noticed the commercial power of junk food. 22 children from all over the world were sponsored by McDonald’s to fly to South Africa to be player escorts to the finalists from Spain and the Netherlands. So there they were, 22 little kids wearing McDonald’s football jersey’s, advertising to the whole world the power of junk food. I would have loved to have one of my boys to be player escort at a Football World Cup but I am not sure whether I will be proud of him wearing a jersey with the telltale “M”.

In addition to differences in age groups and types of commercials, there were also significant differences in exposure of different ethnic groups. African American children were exposec1.4 to 1.6 times more than white kids and more than double the exposure for fast food commercials in 2007.

So far, the regulation seems to be working when it comes to the sweet stuff. However, there is more to be done when it comes to junk food.

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