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J Child Health Care. 2007 Dec;11(4):323-40.

Emotional and rational product appeals in televised food advertisements for children: analysis of commercials shown on US broadcast networks.

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  • 1Department of Health Science, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602, USA.


The aggressive advertising and marketing of high caloric food products to children is implicated as a potential causative factor in the childhood obesity epidemic. This study analyzed 147 commercials appearing during children's programming on U.S. broadcast networks for a wide range of potential emotional and rational advertising appeals. The most prominent emotional appeals were fun/happiness and play followed by fantasy/ imagination, social enhancement/peer acceptance, and coolness/hipness. Many of the products used the term ;super-charged' or a similar adjective to describe the powerful taste or other physical properties of the product. More than one-third of all the commercials used a fruit appeal or association. Statements or depictions that a product was healthy or nutritious were quite rare among the commercials. This seems to imply that health and nutrition claims are understood by food marketers to not be salient concerns among children and as such are not a selling point to children. Commercials for high sugar cereal products and fast food restaurants differed in several respects. This study can serve to guide child health care professionals and other child advocates in designing measures that counter food advertising messages directed at children.

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