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Pediatr Obes. 2014 Oct;9(5):362-72. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2013.00185.x. Epub 2013 Jul 2.

Food and beverage advertising on children's web sites.

Author information

1
Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Food marketing contributes to childhood obesity. Food companies commonly place display advertising on children's web sites, but few studies have investigated this form of advertising.

OBJECTIVES:

Document the number of food and beverage display advertisements viewed on popular children's web sites, nutritional quality of advertised brands and proportion of advertising approved by food companies as healthier dietary choices for child-directed advertising.

METHODS:

Syndicated Internet exposure data identified popular children's web sites and food advertisements viewed on these web sites from July 2009 through June 2010. Advertisements were classified according to food category and companies' participation in food industry self-regulation. The percent of advertisements meeting government-proposed nutrition standards was calculated.

RESULTS:

3.4 billion food advertisements appeared on popular children's web sites; 83% on just four web sites. Breakfast cereals and fast food were advertised most often (64% of ads). Most ads (74%) promoted brands approved by companies for child-directed advertising, but 84% advertised products that were high in fat, sugar and/or sodium. Ads for foods designated by companies as healthier dietary choices appropriate for child-directed advertising were least likely to meet independent nutrition standards.

CONCLUSIONS:

Most foods advertised on popular children's web sites do not meet independent nutrition standards. Further improvements to industry self-regulation are required.

KEYWORDS:

Children; Internet; display advertising; food marketing

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