Absence of fruits & veggie kid-targeted ads on US television; says study

MUMBAI:As medical practitioners grapple with the increasing occurrence of childhood obesity, a study conducted by non- profit organization called the Kaiser Family Foundation points the growing influence of television advertising in promoting junk food in the US.

The study is titled ‘Food for Thought: Television Food Advertising to Children in the United States‘ and claims to be largest study ever conducted on children specific TV commercials. It combines content analysis of TV ads with detailed data about children‘s viewing habits to provide an estimate of the number and type of TV ads seen by children of various ages.

According to an officiall announcement, of the 8,854 ads reviewed in the study, there were none for fruits or vegetables targeting children or teens.

The findings suggest that children in the 8 -12 year old age bracket commonly referred to as ‘tweens‘ see the most food advertisements on TV - an average of 21 a day, or 7,600 a year. Following not too far behind are teenagers that see 17 a day, or about 6,000 a year, while 2-7 year olds kids see the fewest - 12 a day or 4,400 a year.

The Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and director of the program for the study of entertainment media and health Vicky Rideout said, "Since tweens are at an age where they‘re just becoming independent consumers, understanding what type of advertising they are exposed to is especially important."

For each age group studied, food was the top product seen advertised. Thirty-two percent of all ads seen by 2-7 year olds were for food, while 25 per cent of ads seen by 8-12 year olds and 22 pr cent of ads seen by 13-17 year olds were for food. Of all genres on TV, shows specifically designed for children under 12 have the highest proportion of food advertising (50 per cent of all ad time).

Iit was also found candy and snacks occupied a majority share with an alarming 34 per cent, cereal consisted of 28 per cent, 10 per cent for beverages, 10 per cent for fast food, 4 per cent for dairy products, 4 per cent for prepared food.

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