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J Am Diet Assoc. 1994 Nov;94(11):1296-300.

Food advertisements during children's Saturday morning television programming: are they consistent with dietary recommendations?

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.


Children in the United States spend more time watching television than they do in any other activity except sleep. Given the number of food commercials to which children are exposed, we thought it would be of interest to examine current food advertising during children's television programs and to assess whether the products advertised are consistent with dietary recommendations for good health. The 52.5 hours of children's Saturday morning television we viewed from five major networks contained 997 commercials selling a product and 68 public service announcements. Of the 564 food advertisements (56.5% of all advertisements), 43.6% advertised foods classified in the fats, oils, and sweet food group. The most frequently advertised product was high-sugar cereals. We found that commercials broadcast during children's Saturday morning programming promote foods predominantly high in fat and/or sugar, many of which have relatively low nutritional value. As such, the diet presented on Saturday morning television is the antithesis of what is recommended for healthful eating for children. We conclude that the issue of television food advertising to young children be revisited on a national level.

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