Restrictions on food television commercials aimed at children may have reduced the number of kids? TV food ads, but children are still being targeted with cross-promotional tactics and product placement. According to a study from Yale?s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, cross-promotions on food packaging aimed at children nearly doubled between 2006 and 2008 in the US. The US, the UK and Australia have all taken steps to restrict food advertising targeting children, particularly junk food advertising, to promote healthy eating and combat rising obesity among children. Researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity assessed 397 products that used cross-promotions – including use of ?third-party licensed characters, as well as tie-ins with other television shows and movies, athletes, sports teams and events, theme parks, toys and games, and charities?. They found that over the three year period (2006 – 2008) the number of products using youth-oriented cross-promotions increased by 78%.The study said that of all the foods being promoted, only 18 per cent met accepted nutrition standards for foods sold to youth, raising concerns that the initiatives of the CBBB are not having the desired effect, and stricter legislative changes are required.
The researchers found that adult participants exposed to unhealthy food advertisements in TV programs also ate significantly more than those who saw ads with a nutrition or healthy food message. These effects persisted after the TV viewing. While TV food ads are, by design, created to increase purchase and consumption of the foods being advertised, Yale noted that both experiments caused adults and children to increase mindless intake of any foods they had available, including those not specifically presented in the advertisements. Children see few public service announcements compared to food ads. Children under 8 see one announcement on fitness or nutrition for every 26 food ads.
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