Want Fries With That? Kids See More Fast Food Ads, Fewer for Sweets

Filed under: In The News, Media, Mealtime, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens


Burger, anyone? Fast food ads top those for cookies and candy. Credit: pointnshoot, Flickr

Sweet or salty?

When it comes to kids and TV ads, salty wins.

Kids are more likely to see television advertisements for fast food than for candy and cookies, a new study reveals, and researchers also found race is a factor when it comes to exposure to food ads, reports the Los Angeles Times.

A study out of the University of Illinois at Chicago took into account ratings data from Nielsen Media Research for 2003, 2005 and 2007, and found that, by 2007, the ads most frequently viewed by kids of all ages were for fast food. Burger joints dethroned the former king of kids' advertising -- cereal -- which ruled the airwaves in 2003.Researchers also looked at kids and food advertising by race, and found that young African-American TV viewers in three age brackets -- 2 to 5, 6 to 11 and 12 to 15 -- were more likely to see food ads each day than their white peers, the Times reports.

The good news? Overall, kids' exposure to food ads fell, especially when it came to ads for candy bars and cookies. More bad news? While ads for bottled water increased, scientists found exposure to ads for diet soft drinks increased.

"It's a little disturbing," Lisa Powell, lead author of the study and associate professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, tells the Times. "On the one hand, the number of advertisements selling sweets and soft drinks to kids have decreased quite substantially -- but on the other hand, you see that the number of ads for diet soda, and racial targeting, has also increased."

Powell adds that she will fold 2009 data into the current study, which was published online in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. She also plans to monitor the nutritional content of the products advertised.

Related: Fast Food Calorie Counts Lead Parents to Better Choices

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.