A new study suggests that kids are being bombarded with unhealthy food ads on television.
In the study, researchers at the University of California-Davis examined the types of food advertisements seen by children watching English- and Spanish-language American television programs on Saturday mornings and weekday afternoons, which are high viewing times for children.
Recordings were made of programs on twelve networks including highly rated children's cable channels Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Kids' WB, networks that appeal to older youths (MTV, BET), mainstream English-language channels ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and UPN, and Univision and Telemundo, the two highest rated Spanish language channels.
Out of 5,724 commercials recorded, 1,162 were food-related, with 91.2 percent of food promotions in English, and 8.7 percent in Spanish. Only 1 commercial was bilingual.
Overall, nearly 1 in 5 advertisement was for a food or nutrition-related product, with 5.2 food advertisements presented every hour.
Fast-food restaurants, sugary food, chips/crackers, and sugar-added beverages collectively accounted for more than 70 percent of food commercials; 34 percent were for "food on the run," fast-food restaurants and convenience food.
The researchers found that children's networks had the highest percentage of food-related commercials. Food advertisements were predominately for sugary cereals and sweets, high fat food, convenience or fast-food restaurant food, and chips/crackers.
When compared to television for a general audience, children's networks in this study exposed young viewers to 76 percent more food commercials per hour than did the other networks, with the Saturday morning 7-10 AM time slot being more saturated with food commercials.
Approximately 7.7 food commercials per hour appeared in programming on the children's networks, which is approximately 1 food commercial every 8 minutes
The study has been published in the November/December issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour.