Apr. 2, 2008 Nine out of ten food advertisements shown during Saturday morning children's television programming are for foods of poor nutritional quality, according to researchers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the University of Minnesota.
During a sample of 27.5 hours of shows aimed at pre-school and elementary school-aged children, 91 percent of food ads were for foods or beverages high in fat, sodium or added sugars or were low in nutrients, according to the study. Forty-nine percent of the 4.08 hours of advertisements shown were for food (281 food ads out of 571 total). The sample, taken from a 2005 review by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, included major broadcast and cable networks that had Saturday morning programming.
The most commonly advertised food categories were ready-to-eat breakfast cereals and cereal bars (27 percent of all ads), restaurants (19 percent) and snack foods (18 percent). Of the 281 food ads, 59 percent were for products that exceeded criteria for added sugars, according to the study. About one in five foods advertised exceeded other guidelines, including total fat, saturated plus trans fat and sodium. The majority of advertised foods (84 percent) met the criteria for vitamins and minerals, often as a result of fortification. None of the 27 beverage ads met the study's nutrition standards.
The researchers conclude: "The findings indicate that the foods that food and nutrition professionals encourage children to eat more of, such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, are seldom encouraged in advertisements shown during children's Saturday morning television programming. Instead, most advertisements promote...foods high in fat, sugars or sodium, or low in nutrients."
This research was published in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
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