Kids have long been a major target for advertisers because even though they don’t do the buying, they exert a lot of influence over what products are purchased for a household. A rapidly increasing obesity rate triggered concern over the prevalence of such ads – especially after a connection between the number of food ads viewed and weight gain was made.
Advertisers say that they are cutting back on the promotion of junk food to kids and TV networks say that they are trying to balance the content of the ads that they air. But are they following up? A recent study suggests not.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest examined ads on the Nickelodeon cable network, as well as ads in their magazine and a number of grocery store products with Nickelodeon characters on the packaging, and found that “88 percent of the commercials, 76 percent of the magazine ads and 60 percent of the grocery products promote foods of poor nutritional quality,” such as candy and high-sugar cereals. “94 percent of Nickelodeon-related children’s meal combinations promoted at restaurants [were also found] to be nutritionally poor.” It’s no wonder that kids want sugary foods when an average of 80% of the ads they see (Nick is in 92 million homes) endorse them.
Nickelodeon spokespeople say that they are committed to presenting information about healthy lifestyles, but from the sound of it, this might be a good reason to consider signing up for TiVo so you can skip the ads or to get the kids involved in something that gets them away from the TV where they won’t be in a position to see so many junk food ads.
PumpkinJune 7, 2007
On a related note, Disney announced that within the next two to four years, Disney characters will no longer be used to market foods that don’t meet certain health guidelines. (The phase-out period allows current contracts wo end.)
As well, at the theme parks, healthier kid’s meal items have been added, and sides dishes for kid’s meals have been changed to things like baby carrots, grapes, applesauce, &c. and beverages have been expanded to also offer milk, juice and waters. Parents have to specifically ask for fries or sodas if they want them as their kid’s side- they’re no longer the default side dish.