Advertising Standards Authority. Food Advertising: Evidence-Based Rules for Children's Multimedia Lives. 2018. (accessed 7 January 2020)

Bhadoria A, Sahoo K, Sahoo B, Choudhury A, Sufi N, Kumar R. Childhood obesity: Causes and consequences. J Fam Med Prim Care.. 2015; 4:(2)

Boyland EJ, Halford JCG. Television advertising and branding. Effects on eating behaviour and food preferences in children. Appetite. 2013; 62:236-241

Boyland EJ, Kavanagh-Safran M, Halford JCG. Exposure to ‘healthy’ fast food meal bundles in television advertisements promotes liking for fast food but not healthier choices in children. Br J Nutr.. 2015; 113:(6)1012-1018

Broadcasters Audience Research Board. Broadcasters Audience Research Board. 2020. (accessed 8 January 2020)

Cairns G, Angus K, Hastings G, Caraher M. Systematic reviews of the evidence on the nature, extent and effects of food marketing to children. A retrospective summary. Appetite. 2013; 62:209-215

Carson SJ, Abuhaloob L, Richards D, Hector MP, Freeman R. The relationship between childhood body weight and dental caries experience: an umbrella systematic review protocol. Syst Rev.. 2017; 6:(1)

Department of Health. Nutrient Profiling Technical Guidance. 2011. (accessed 30 July 2020)

Department of Health. Guide to Creating a Front of Pack (FoP) Nutrition Label for Pre-Packed Products Sold through Retail Outlets. 2016. (accessed 8 January 2020)

Halford JCG, Gillespie J, Brown V, Pontin EE, Dovey TM. Effect of television advertisements for foods on food consumption in children. Appetite.. 2004; 42:(2)221-225

Lake A, Townshend T. Obesogenic environments: Exploring the built and food environments. J R Soc Promot Health.. 2006; 126:(6)262-267

Morgan M, Fairchild R, Phillips A, Stewart K, Hunter L. A content analysis of children's television advertising: focus on food and oral health. Public Health Nutr.. 2009; 12:(6)748-755

UK traffic light labelling should be mandatory: LGA. 2016. (accessed 13 January 2020)

NHS. The Eatwell Guide. 2016. (accessed 13 January 2020)

Ofcom. Television Advertising of Food and Drink Products to Children Final Statement. 2007. (accessed 7 January 2020)

Ofcom. HFSS Advertising Restrictions Final Review Statement. 2010. (accessed 7 January 2020)

Ofcom. Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report. 2017. (accessed 7 January 2020)

Roberts JD, Rodkey L, Ray R, Knight B, Saelens BE. Electronic media time and sedentary behaviors in children: Findings from the Built Environment and Active Play Study in the Washington DC area. Prev Med Reports. 2017; 6:149-156

Rodd HD, Patel V. Content analysis of children's television advertising in relation to dental health. Br Dent J.. 2005; 199:(11)710-712

Sonnenberg L, Gelsomin E, Levy DE, Riis J, Barraclough S, Thorndike AN. A traffic light food labeling intervention increases consumer awareness of health and healthy choices at the point-of-purchase. Prev Med (Baltim).. 2013; 57:(4)253-257

Wiecha JL, Peterson KE, Ludwig DS, Kim J, Sobol A, Gortmaker SL. When children eat what they watch: Impact of television viewing on dietary intake in youth. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med.. 2006; 160:(4)436-442

Set of Recommendations on the Marketing of Foods and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children.Geneva: World Health Organization; 2010

Exposure of children to television food advertisements: an observational analysis

02 February 2021
10 min read
Volume 2 · Issue 1


Television advertisements are a powerful medium by which food companies can influence children's dietary choices. This study aimed to determine the current frequency and nutritional content of food and drink advertisements on popular television channels and ascertain whether this differed depending on the target age-group. In this study, television channels were classified by their stated target age-groups. A total of 96 hours of the most popular television channels from each age category were watched during children's peak viewing times, and food and drink advertisements were nutritionally analysed. Overall, 9.5% of advertisements observed were for food and drink. More food and drink advertisements (P<0.001) and those promoting high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) products (P<0.001) were broadcast on channels aimed towards older children. There is an ongoing exposure of children to HFSS products via both adult- and child-targeted television channels. Further efforts are required to limit this.

Two of the biggest health concerns regarding child health, worldwide, are dental caries and obesity (Carson et al, 2017). In the most recent UK Child Dental Health Survey, obvious tooth decay was apparent in the primary teeth of 46% of 8-year-olds, and in the permanent teeth of 46% of 15-year-olds (NHS, 2013). Over one-third of 12-year-olds reported that they were embarrassed to smile and laugh because of their teeth, and over half felt their day-to-day activities had been affected by tooth-related problems. Similarly, obesity has a considerable impact on quality of life and is associated with a wide range of medical conditions including type II diabetes, heart disease and cancers, which can have longstanding effects into adulthood (Bhadoria et al, 2015). While the determinants of these two diseases are multifactorial, lifestyle choices, such as unhealthy food selections and frequent snacking, are known to have a significant impact on the development of both (Lake and Townshend, 2006).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Journal of Child Health and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for children’s health professionals. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month