Nevin Manimala Statistics

Broadcast Television Is Not Dead: Exposure of Children to Unhealthy Food and Beverage Advertising on Television in Two Policy Environments (Ontario and Quebec). An Observational Study

J Nutr. 2023 Jan;153(1):268-278. doi: 10.1016/j.tjnut.2022.09.002. Epub 2022 Dec 21.


BACKGROUND: Food marketing can influence children’s dietary behaviors. In Canada, Quebec banned commercial advertising to children under the age of 13 y in 1980, whereas advertising to children is self-regulated by industry in the rest of the country.

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to compare the extent and power of food and beverage advertising on television to children (age: 2-11 y) in two different policy environments (Ontario and Quebec).

METHODS: Advertising data for 57 selected food and beverage categories were licensed from Numerator for Toronto and Montreal (English and French markets) from January to December 2019. The 10 most popular stations for children (age: 2-11 y) and a subset of child-appealing stations were examined. Exposure to food advertisements (ads) was based on gross rating points. A content analysis of food ads was conducted, and the healthfulness of ads was assessed using Health Canada’s proposed nutrient profile model. Descriptive statistics were tabulated for the frequency of and exposure to ads.

RESULTS: On average, children were exposed to 3.7 to 4.4 food and beverage ads per day, exposure to fast-food advertising was highest (670.7-550.6 ads per year), advertising techniques were used frequently, and the majority (>90%) of advertised products were classified as unhealthy. On the top 10 stations, French children in Montreal were most exposed to unhealthy food and beverage advertising (712.3 ads per year), although they were exposed to fewer child-appealing advertising techniques compared with those in other markets. On the child-appealing stations, French children in Montreal were least exposed to food and beverage advertising (43.6 ads per year per station) and child-appealing advertising techniques compared with the other groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The Consumer Protection Act appears to positively impact exposure to child-appealing stations; yet, it does not sufficiently protect all children in Quebec and requires strengthening. Federal-level regulations restricting unhealthy advertising are needed to protect children across Canada.

PMID:36913461 | DOI:10.1016/j.tjnut.2022.09.002

By Nevin Manimala

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