June 1995

Advertised Foods on Children's Television

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, Calif (Dr Taras); and Department of Medicine/Family Practice Residency Program, Community Hospital, Santa Rosa, Calif (Dr Gage).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(6):649-652. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170190059010

Objective:  To assess the quantity and nutritional value of foods advertised on children's television following new regulations and an expanded number of networks.

Research Design:  Children's television hours were surveyed (with use of a method modeled on previously published studies, for purposes of comparison).

Setting:  Seven local network affiliates; all but one are broadcast nationally.

Results:  Children viewed an average of 21.3 commercials per hour, each lasting an average of 28.6 seconds. Food advertisements accounted for 47.8% of these commercials. Ninety-one percent of advertised foods are high in fat, sugar, and/or salt. Compared with data collected before new regulations and networks, children now watch more numerous but shorter commercials. Cereals and sweet snacks are advertised proportionately less. Processed foods, canned and prepared foods, and dairy products are more frequently advertised. The proportion of foods high in fat, salt, and sugar has not changed.

Conclusions:  Commercials advertising unhealthy foods account for a large portion of children's televised viewing time. Current regulations and the incursion of cable networks into the children's television market have not meaningfully impacted the nature or number of food advertisements.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:649-652)