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' children. In Canada, self-regulated codes of practice on television food advertising to children were recently strengthened.
Objective: To document the number and nutritional content of food advertisements 'of particular appeal to' 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 one week in 2006 were identified and linked to relevant nutritional data. Food advertisements 'of particular appeal to' children and for 'less healthy' products were identified using the criterion 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 'of particular appeal to'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 advertisements that were and were not 'of particular appeal to' children.
Conclusion: There was little evidence that foods advertisements 'of particular appeal to' children were any less healthy than those that were not. Few food advertisements are likely to be prohibited by the new UK regulations.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
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