Arch Dis Child 94:658-662 doi:10.1136/adc.2008.151019
  • Original article

Food advertising during children’s television in Canada and the UK

  1. J Adams1,
  2. K Hennessy-Priest2,
  3. S Ingimarsdóttir1,
  4. J Sheeshka2,
  5. T Østbye3,
  6. M White1
  1. 1
    Institute of Health and Society, William Leech Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2
    Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3
    Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Jean Adams, Institute of Health and Society, William Leech Building, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK; j.m.adams{at}
  • Accepted 13 January 2009
  • Published Online First 28 May 2009


Background: Television advertisements for less healthy foods are thought to contribute to overweight and obesity in children. In the UK, new regulations on television food advertising to children came into effect in April 2007. These prohibit advertisements for “less healthy” foods during or around programmes “of particular appeal to” (OPAT) children. In Canada, self-regulated codes of practice on television food advertising to children were recently strengthened.

Objective: To document the nutritional content of food advertised and number of advertisements OPAT children broadcast in the UK and central Canada before the introduction of the new UK regulations.

Design: All food advertisements broadcast on four popular channels in Canada and the three terrestrial commercial channels in the UK during 1 week in 2006 were identified and linked to relevant nutritional data. Food advertisements OPAT children and for “less healthy” products were identified using the criteria in the UK regulations.

Results: 2315 food related advertisements broadcast in Canada and 1365 broadcast in the UK were included. 52–61% were for “less healthy” products; 5–11% were OPAT children. Around 5% of food advertisements would have been prohibited under the new UK regulations. There were few differences in the nutritional content of food described in advertisements that were and were not OPAT children.

Conclusion: There was little evidence that food described in advertisements OPAT children were any less healthy than those that were not. Few food advertisements are likely to be prohibited by the new UK regulations.


  • Funding JA is supported by a UK MRC Special Training Fellowship in Health Services and Health of the Public Research.

  • Competing interests None.

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