Most advertising aimed at children these days relates to fast food, beating out even sweets and beverages, a new study claims.
Studies have already indicated that television advertising influences the short-term eating habits of children age 2 to 11.
The new study conducted by Lisa M. Powell, and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago found that between 2003 and 2007, ads for sweets became less frequent, with a 41 percent decrease in exposure for 2- to 5-year-olds, 29.3 percent for 6- to 11-year-olds and 12.1 percent for 12- to 17-year-olds. Beverage ads also decreased in frequency.
However, the team found an increase in viewings of fast food ads across all age groups between the same time periods.
The racial gap in advertising also increased in this time period. By 2007, African American children saw 1.4 to 1.6 times as many food ads per day than white children, depending on their age.
"Continued monitoring of children's television food ad exposure along with nutritional assessments of advertised products will improve understanding of the extent to which self-regulation can translate into a reduction in the promotion of unhealthy food products," the team concludes.
The study appears in Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.