Published: May 2015

ID #: 70411

Journal: Am J Prev Med

Authors: Kunkel DL, Castonguay JS, Filer CR

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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 comparing advertising content on children’s TV programs before and after self-regulation was implemented. A systematic content analysis of food advertisements appearing in children’s TV programs on the most popular cable and broadcast channels was conducted. The study found that all CFBAI-participating companies met their pledges to comply with nutritional standards set by their parent companies and to use licensed characters solely in advertising for healthier products. However, findings indicated that no significant improvement in the overall nutritional quality of foods marketed to children has been achieved since industry self-regulation was adopted. In 2013, 80.5 percent of all foods advertised to children on TV were for products in the poorest nutritional category compared to 79.4 percent in 2007. The lack of significant improvement in nutritional quality is likely a result of weak nutritional standards employed by industry for defining healthy foods, and because not all food marketers participate in the CFBAI.

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