Given the increased concern about the impact of TV food advertisements (ads) on individual food choices, we provide important evidence on TV food advertisement exposure between 2004 and 2009 in South Korea. We used monthly targeted ratings data by age group as the number of ads seen daily from Korean Nielsen Media Research. We generated six food groups: beverages (milk, soda, fruit drinks, sports/energy drinks, water, coffee/tea products, and other); snacks/sweets (cookies/chips, candy, and chewing gum); fast food (Domino's pizza, Lotteria, McDonald's, Mr. Pizza, Pizza Hut, local chicken and pizza franchises, and other); instant noodle; full-service restaurants; and other. From 2004 to 2009, overall exposure to television food ads fell by 19.0% (from 6.8 to 5.5 ads daily), although exposure to full-service restaurant ads increased over that time period by 45.7%. While fast-food ad exposure fell overall, exposure to ads for local fried chicken franchises nearly doubled, making them the most commonly seen fast-food ads by 2009. Fast-food and instant noodle ads made up larger proportions of total ad exposure in 2009 than in 2004 in all age groups, with the largest increase among adolescents. Beverage ads continue to be the most prevalent food ads seen in South Korea. Differential trends found in exposure across and within food product categories and differences by age groups highlight the need for continued monitoring to help inform the regulatory policy debate on food advertising, particularly with regards to ads directed at children and adolescents.
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