Social media contributes to obesity in children.

socialThe University of Illinois in Chicago has released a new study which examined the nutritional value of ads shown during children’s television programs vs food ads shown during regular air time.

The researchers looked at the nutritional content of ads on children’s shows with a child-audience share of 35 percent or greater and whether they compared favorably to the proposed nutritional guidelines recommended by the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children. The guidelines have been developed to limit saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars and due to their demonstrated effects on health and body weight.

The study also examined food accountability by examining the products released by food companies that had pledged to promote healthier food choices to children or refrain from targeting children under the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising (CFBAI). CFBAI was implemented in 2006 and includes 16 companies that voluntarily committed to a healthier food .

“We found that less than half of children’s exposure to ads for food and beverage products comes from children’s programming, meaning that a significant portion of exposure is not subject to self-regulation,” said Lisa Powell, professor of health policy and administration in the UIC School of and lead author of the study.

A high percentage of ads (84 %) targeted at children were found to advertise products high in fats, sugars and . On children’s programming, more than 95 percent of ads were for products high in the unhealthy contents.

Nearly all the ads involved by companies that pledged to commit to the CFBAI standards seen on children’s programming failed to meet recommended federal principle with 97 percent advertising products high in fats, sugars and .

“The self-regulatory effort has been ineffective so far,” Powell said. In response to the study the CFBAI has proposed new, uniform criteria for member companies beginning Dec. 31, to replace the varying standards set by each company currently. It remains to be seen if self regulation will be effective.


Lisa Powell et al. Nutritional Content of Food and Beverage Products in Television Advertisements Seen on Children’s Programming. , December 2013

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