Trends in exposure to television food advertisements among children and adolescents in the United States

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010; 164(9).
Authors: Powell LM, Szczypka G, Chaloupka FJ.

Objective: To examine the trends in food advertising seen by American children and adolescents. Design: Trend analysis of children’s and adolescent’s exposure to food advertising in 2003, 2005, and 2007, including separate analyses by race. Participants: Children aged 2 to 5 years and 6 to 11 years and adolescents aged 12 to 17 years. Main Exposure: Television ratings. Main Outcome Measures: Exposures to total food advertising and advertising by food category. Results: Between 2003 and 2007 daily average exposure to food ads fell by 13.7% and 3.7% among young children aged 2 to 5 and 6 to 11 years, respectively, but increased by 3.7% among adolescents aged 12 to 17 years. Exposure to sweets ads fell 41%, 29.3% and 12.1%, respectively for 2- to 5-, 6- to 11-, and 12- to 17-year-olds and beverage ads were down by 27% to 30% across these age groups, with substantial decreases in exposure to ads for the most heavily advertised sugar-sweetened beverages—fruit drinks and regulated soft drinks. Exposure to fast food ads increased by 4.7%, 12.2% and 20.4% among children aged 2 to 5, 6 to 11, and 12 to 17 years, respectively, between 2003 and 2007. The racial gap in exposure to food advertising grew between 2003 and 2007, particularly for fast food ads. Conclusions: A number of positive changes have occurred in children’s exposure to food advertising. Continued monitoring of food advertising along with nutritional analyses is needed to further assess self-regulatory pledges.

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