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The influence of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative: change in children’s exposure to food advertising on television in Canada between 2006–2009

Abstract

Objective:

To assess whether children’s exposure to television food/beverage advertising has changed since the implementation of the self-regulatory Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CAI).

Design:

Data on 11 advertised food/beverage categories (candy, chocolate bars, cookies, portable snacks, cheese, yogurt, cereal, juices, soft drinks, diet soft drinks and fast food) were purchased from Nielsen Media Research for May 2006, 2009 and 2011 for the broadcasting markets of Toronto and Vancouver. The number of advertisements aired on 27 television stations between 0600 hours–1200 hours was determined in Toronto and Vancouver for May 2006, 2009 and 2011 and the percentage change in the number of spots between May 2006 and May 2011 on all stations, on children’s specialty stations and on generalist stations was then calculated. The average number food/beverage spots seen by children aged 2–11 was determined for May 2006 and 2009 and the percentage change was calculated.

Results:

On children’s specialty channels, a 4.5% decrease in total spots aired was observed while spots aired on generalist stations increased by 44% (Toronto) and 45% (Vancouver). On all stations, children’s total average exposure to food/beverage advertising increased by 16.8% in Toronto and 6.4% in Vancouver between 2006 and 2009. Significant increases were seen in snacks and yogurt in both cities, and in fast food in Toronto. On children’s specialty channels, children’s exposure to the food/beverage categories considered increased by 5.4% in Toronto and by 2.5% in Vancouver.

Conclusions:

Despite improvements in the volume of spots on children’s specialty channels, children’s exposure to food and beverage advertising has increased since the implementation of the CAI. The current self-regulatory system is failing to protect children from food marketing high in fat, sugar and sodium on television. Government regulation needs to be considered.

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Acknowledgements

Data were purchased from Nielsen Media Research by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Salary support for Monique Potvin Kent was provided by the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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Potvin Kent, M., Wanless, A. The influence of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative: change in children’s exposure to food advertising on television in Canada between 2006–2009. Int J Obes 38, 558–562 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2014.4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2014.4

Keywords

  • children
  • food marketing
  • policy
  • prevention

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