Children and adolescents see between 4,500 and 6,000 food ads on TV each year, the majority of which are for products high in sugar and fat and low in essential nutrients. In April 2011, a coalition of federal authorities known as the Interagency Working Group on Foods Marketed to Children (IWG) proposed guidelines for the nutritional quality of foods advertised to children. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which televised food advertising practices targeting children ages 12 and under were consistent with these guidelines. The study sample consisted of 354 food and beverage commercials observed across 55 hours of children’s TV programming aired on national television. Analyses revealed that nearly all food ads (94%) met guidelines for trans fats; 68 percent and 62 percent met guidelines for sodium and saturated fat, respectively; and 20 percent complied with added sugar guidelines. Overall, 1.4 percent of all children-targeted food ads met all aspects of IWG guidelines. These findings suggest that child-targeted food advertising remains biased toward less healthy options, and that industry attempts at self-regulation have been unsuccessful at minimizing children’s exposure to advertising of unhealthy products.
Alignment of Children’s Food Advertising With Proposed Federal Guidelines
In response to growing concern about children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising, the food industry adopted a program of self-regulation – the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) – with participating companies pledging to limit child-targeted advertising to healthier products. This study assesses the efficacy of industry self-regulation by … More
Studying Industry Self-Regulation of the Televised Advertising of Foods and Beverages to Children and its Impact on Nutritional Quality
Research has established that children’s exposure to television ads for non-nutritious food products is a significant risk factor contributing to childhood obesity. The aim of this project is to continue an ongoing, independent evaluation of a food industry self-regulatory program known as the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI). … More
Retailers and other organizations currently use a variety of nutrition standards and recommendations to guide consumers towards healthier, “Better for You”, options. This variety can be confusing to consumers. Healthy Eating Research convened a scientific advisory committee to review existing “Better-For-You” nutrition standards, and analyze their strengths and weaknesses. The … More