Trends in Television Food Advertising to Young People: 2014 Update

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Author(s): Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut

Published: Aug. 10, 2015

Report Intro/Brief:
"In this brief, we update our previous reports on food-related TV ads viewed by children and adolescents since 2002 to include 2014 data. We also examine changes since 2007, when the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) food industry self-regulatory program1 was implemented.

In 2014, children viewed on average 12.8 ads per day for foods, beverages, and restaurants, and adolescents viewed 15.2 ads per day – declines of 2% and 7%, respectively, versus 2013. However, children viewed 5% more food-related ads in 2014 than they had in 2007, and adolescents viewed 16% more. Categories with more advertising to youth in 2014 versus 2007 included candy, carbonated beverages, fast-food and other restaurants, and crackers and savory snacks, as well as yogurt and other dairy. Advertisements for bottled water and fruits and vegetables also increased, but these categories each represented less than 2% of food advertisements seen by youth.

Food industry self-regulation has not substantially changed the landscape of food advertising to children under 12. Although food-related TV advertising to children declined from 2013 to 2014, children saw 5% more f00d ads in 2014 than they had in 2007, the year that most companies implemented their CFBAI pledges. Furthermore, fast-food and other restaurants, candy, snack foods, and carbonated beverages represented 60% and 66% of food ads viewed by children and adolescents respectively in 2014, while fruits and vegetables contributed less than 1% for both age groups. At the same time, total food-related advertising to adolescents increased 16%, suggesting that companies may have increased advertising to this older, but still vulnerable, group of children. While the amount of food advertising on children’s TV programming has declined in recent years, 3 these results demonstrate that TV advertising to young people remains an obstacle for parents and caregivers attempting to encourage healthier dietary choices by their children."