Television food advertising directed towards Bulgarian children
- 1 Department of Paediatrics and Medical Genetics, Varna University Hospital “St. Marina”, Varna, Bulgaria
- 2 Department of Internal Diseases, Varna Military Hospital, Varna, Bulgaria
- Dr Sonya Vasileva Galcheva, Department of Paediatrics and Medical Genetics, Varna University Hospital “St. Marina”, 1, Hristo Smirnenski str, Varna 9010, Bulgaria;
- Accepted 1 April 2008
- Published Online First 2 May 2008
Background: Childhood obesity is a serious health problem worldwide with a prevalence rising to epidemic proportions. Television viewing is suspected as an important contributor and along with food advertisements significantly influence children’s unhealthy dietary habits, purchase requests and adiposity.
Objectives: To examine the exposure of Bulgarian children to television food advertising and to make a content analysis of the food/beverage advertisements during children’s television programmes.
Design: 41.5 h of children’s television programming on three national networks, were videotaped. All recorded food advertisements were evaluated to identify the marketing strategies used for the stimulation of children’s purchase requests.
Results: Food/beverage advertisements accounted for 124 (33.4%) of all commercials, with 96.8% being for unhealthy foods. 57% of them were aimed specifically at children as the most advertised products were salty/sweetened snacks and cereals, sweets, soft drinks/carbohydrate juices and salty foods, with no fruit or vegetable commercials. Food advertisements used more themes of adventure, animation, music and gifts to attract children’s attention, and gave information based on the product’s taste, physical qualities, novelty, presence of premiums/prizes. Of all food/beverage advertisements, 27.4% contained health-related information about the products; three-quarters of the advertisements were shot with young normal-weight actors with a good/healthy appearance.
Conclusion: Almost all recorded food advertisements do not support the Bulgarian dietary recommendations for healthy and balanced eating. More activities to reduce the unhealthy food promotion to children are mandatory as restrictions by type of advertised food, target group or limits on the advertisements’ account and times shown, as well as parental/self-regulation.
Competing interests: None.