Childhood obesity needs action

Obesity in children has reached epidemic proportions.
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  • Updated:22 Sep 2006

04.Food marketing facts

Too many unhealthy ads

Studies have repeatedly found that children are bombarded by ads for fast-food restaurants, chocolates, confectionery and other unhealthy foods. And food promotion does influence food choices — food companies would hardly spend millions of dollars on advertising each year if it didn’t. Some interesting facts:

  • The most recent study found there were nine ads for high-fat/high-sugar foods per hour during the TV programs most popular with 5–12-year-olds.
  • On the other hand the number of ads for core foods recommended in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (fruit and vegetables, for example) is disproportionately low — a ratio of less than one in five ads, according to research published in July.
  • The top 10 food advertisers in 2004, which included Cadbury Confectionery and Nestlé Australia, spent around $410 million advertising their products.
  • Cadbury Schweppes, Competitive Foods (HUNGRY JACK’S and DOMINO’S PIZZAS), McDonald's, Nestlé Australia and Yum Restaurants (KFC and PIZZA HUT) were among the top 50 advertisers across all advertising categories.

Fat TV ads

 The top 10 most advertised brands during children’s TV viewing hours over one week in May this year were:

  • CADBURY chocolates (177 ads), including Cherry Ripe (50), Boost (48) and Dairy Milk (42)
  • McDONALD’S (109)
  • KFC (88)
  • DOLMIO pasta sauces (67)
  • SANITARIUM Weet-Bix breakfast cereal range (63), including Up & Go breakfast drink
  • NESTLÉ Nesquik breakfast cereal (61)
  • PANDAROO Asian food range (56)
  • NESTLÉ NESLAC Toddler Gold (53)
  • LENARD’S chicken products (49)

Source: Australian Centre for Health Promotion

Marketing via cyberspace

Children are also being targeted via the internet, where advertisers can capture their attention for several minutes rather than just 30 seconds. Food marketing: child’s play? has more on this.

Recent analysis of online food marketing in America found that:

  • 85% of the top food brands advertised to children on TV also used branded websites to market to children online, and the majority of these were brands of chocolate, confectionery and other sweet or salty snacks.
  • Advergames (online games in which a company’s product or brand characters are featured) were found on 73% of these websites.
  • The sites also employed a range of other advertising and marketing tactics, including giving kids the opportunity: to participate in viral marketing; giving them on-demand access to TV ads; and, incentives to buy more of their products. So whether children are playing a game or engaging in other website activities, they’re continually being exposed to the brand.

No regulation currently extends to these forms of online marketing, but it’s clear that it’s needed.


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