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Inglorious food is what bombards kids on TV

Published March 29, 2007


WASHINGTON - Sex and violence are what many parents fear their children will consume too much of on television. But a new study finds that food is the top product served up to kids and teens on screen.

The study, released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, is the largest ever conducted of television food marketing to children and teens.

It finds that "food is the No. 1 product advertised to kids, followed by media such as music, video games and movies," said Vicky Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation's Program for the Study of Entertainment Media and Health. Rideout directed the study, conducted by Indiana University.

The study found that more than a third of commercials targeting children or adolescents are for candy and snacks - often high-fat, sugary foods that are likely to fuel the childhood obesity epidemic.

Children 8 to 12 years old watch the most food commercials, averaging 21 ads daily, according to the findings. That adds up to about 7,600 per year, or nearly 51 hours annually. Teens 13 to 17 years of age see 17 food ads daily, or more than 6,000 per year, while youngsters 2 to 7 years of age view 12 foods ads per day, or 4,400 yearly.

The researchers analyzed more than 1,600 hours of television programming broadcast from late May to mid July in 2005, with sampling in September of that year. It also went beyond traditional children's programming to include viewing times when ratings show children and teens are likely to be watching.

Half of the ads shown during children's shows are for food. Of all the ads in the study, 34 percent marketed candy and snacks, 28 percent were for cereal and 10 percent promoted fast foods.

[Last modified March 29, 2007, 01:50:15]

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