Essays on Food Advertisements on Television during Children Programs Research Paper

Food Advertisements on Television during Children’s Programmes. There has been a significant increase in the number of both obese and overweight children in Australia over the last 20 years and current data has shown that in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children involving 4983 children aged 4-5 years old, 15.2% were overweight and an additional 5.5% were obese (Wake et al, 2006). Additionally, a study of young children aged 2-4 years old in Melbourne and Sydney found that about one in six children were overweight or obese (Zuo, Norberg, Wen and Rissel, 2006). One of the reasons this issue has become the concern of many is because obesity can lead to short and long term adverse health consequences such as cardiovascular diseases as well as diabetes. Researchers have identified television viewing as one of the factors contributing to this issue and one of the factors within television viewing would be the food advertisements which influence children’s consumption behavior as well as increase their consumption of snacks (Halford, Gillespie, Brown, Pontin and Dovey, 2004). Additionally, Coon and Tucker (2002) has also found a link between food advertisements on television during children’s programmes with an increased intake of sweet and salty snacks and lower intakes of important food groups such as vegetables and fruits. Additionally, it has been found that young children especially those less than eight years old, lack the ability to distinguish between television programmes and advertisements. Thus, there is the inability to differentiate between the advertiser’s purpose and intent (McGinnis, Gootman and Kraak, 2006). In 2002, a research was conducted in NSW regarding the extent as well as the nature of food advertisements on television during children programmes and it was found that half of all food and advertisements during the study week promoted foods which were either high in fat and/or sugar content with fast food and confectionary companies having the largest slice of the advertising pie. The number of advertisements during children programmes was also significantly higher compared to when adult programmes were shown (Neville, Thomas and Bauman, 2005). On the global front, similar patterns are seen in television food advertising where Hastings et al (2003) noted that between 1970 and 2003, the five major advertised food groups in countries such as Australia, Canada, the UK and US were fast food outlets, soft drinks, pre-sugared breakfast cereals, savoury snacks and confectionary. These five groups of food which are shown in advertisements affect total energy consumption. A study by Wiecha et al (2006) found that there was a significant increase in the amount of calories consumed with higher television viewing habits and the intake of certain commonly advertised foods such as soft drinks and snacks also increased with longer exposure to television viewing. Halford et al (2004) also noted that there was a strong relationship between food advertisement recognition in children who were overweight and the quantity of non-essential foods was associated with food advertisements. Additionally, the similar study also showed that children were more likely to consume food products high in sweet and fat after watching television food advertisements promoting these products. The correlation between the number of advertisements especially those involving food and the incidence of obesity and overweight amongst children has been found. Lobstein and Dibb (2005) noted that the US and Australia had the highest number of food advertisements during television viewing (44.4% and 39.2% respectively in 1996) and the highest prevalence of overweight children (26.0% and 19.9% respectively in the same year). In Sweden where the number of food advertisements are amongst the lowest in the world, it also has the lowest prevalence of overweight children (21% advertisements and 16% prevalence of overweight children). Additionally, food promotion affects a child’s food preference at both category and branding levels which would then influence buying and consumption decisions (Zywicki, Holt and Ohlhausen, 2004). In the context of Australian children’s television advertising regulations, one of the regulatory codes is by the Children’s Television Standards (CTS) which is presided by the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA). Section 16 of the CTS specifies that an advertisement may be broadcasted no more than twice within a 30 minute children’s programme but a study noted that in just 357 hours of television viewing during the study week in 2006, 14 breaches of CTS 16 were observed for food related advertisements and 80% of the advertisements involved food which were either high in sugar and/or fat (Kelly and Chau, 2007). Chapman, Nicholas and Supramaniam (2006) also identified 194 breaches of the CTS during 645 hours of commercial television across both rural and urban areas. Neville et al (2005) has also shown that after one week (390 hours) of advertising during children’s television viewing hours of over 15 television stations, the promotion of unhealthy foods on television was rampant and has to be stopped. Under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992, the ACMA has the responsibility to protect children from the possible harmful effects of television viewing. In my opinion, steps have to be taken to counter these issues but perhaps banning advertisements completely during children programmes may not be the best answer. However, I would like changes to be made as the health of Australian children are at risk and this would be the best reason to increase legislation governing food advertisements during children programmes. As mentioned earlier, there is a link between obesity in children and future risks of developing diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Horri and Vakili (2006) found that in obese children, the mass of the left ventricle and the frequency of abnormal lipid levels are increased and this increases the risk of developing serious cardiovascular complications such as hypertension and heart attacks in the future. Weiss et al (2004) also noted that the prevalence of metabolic syndrome which is the link between insulin resistance, hypertension, abnormal lipids and diabetes is increased with the severity of obesity and reached 50% in severely obese youngsters. Thus, there is a global response to stop this situation from worsening and in countries like the US, the US Surgeon General has released a Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). In Australia, government sponsored summits have been held in order to find ways to respond to this issue but action is still limited to the health sector (NSW Health). In this context, the complete banning or restriction of food advertisements during children’s programmes may not be the best decision as shown by Willms, Tremblay and Katzmarzyk (2003) where a study done in Quebec showed that although food advertising to children has been banned since 1980, childhood obesity rates are no different from those in other Canadian provinces. Additionally, there is also data which show that the consumption of energy-dense food may not be the main cause of obese and overweight children as epidemiological studies have not managed to find the link between dietary fat and adiposity in children (Ebbeling, Pawlak and Ludwig, 2002). Energy expenditure of children as well as adults today has also decreased and perhaps, the cause of obesity can also be linked to a sedentary lifestyle (Cordain, Gotshall, Boyd Eaton and Boyd Eaton, 1998). Thus, it is in my opinion that it would be better to modify advertising strategies to include health related information so that children grow up with a positive health message which can be carried on into adulthood. The responsibility to resolve this problem is that of everyone and the unity amongst all concerned parties would prove beneficial. References Chapman K, Nicholas P, Supramaniam R. (2006) How much food advertising is there on Australian television? Health Promot Int; 21: 172-180. Coon, K A, Tucker K L. (2002) Television and children’s consumption patterns. A review of the literature. Minerva Pediatrica. 54 (5):423-36 Cordain L, Gotshall RW, Boyd Eaton S, Boyd Eaton S III. (1998) Physical activity, energy expenditure and fitness: an evolutionary perspective. Int J Sports Med; 19:328 -35 Ebbeling CB, Pawlak DB, Ludwig DS. (2002) Childhood obesity: public-health crisis, common sense cure. Lancet; 360: 473-82 Halford J C G, Gillespie J, Brown V, Pontin E E, Dovey T M. (2004) Effect of television advertisements for foods on food consumption in children. Appetite. 42:221-225 Hastings G, Stead M, McDermott L, Forsyth A, MacKintosh A M, Rayner M, Godfrey C, Caraher M, Angus K. (2003) Review of Research on the Effects of Food Promotion to Children. Prepared for the Food Standard Agency Horri M and Vakili R. (2006) Evaluation of Cardiovascular and Lipid Profile Abnormalities in Obese Children and Adolescents. Iran J Med Sci June; Vol 31 No 2 87 Kelly, BP and Chau JY. (2007) Children's television sub-standards: a call for significant amendments The Medical Journal of Australia. Volume 186 Number 1 Lobstein T, Dibb S. (2005) Evidence of a possible link between obesogenic food advertising and child overweight. The International Association for the study of Obesity. Obesity Reviews 6:203-208 McGinnis M J, Gootman J A, Kraak V I. (2006) Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity? Food and Nutrition Board, Board on Children, Youth and Families, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies Neville L, Thomas M, and Bauman A. (2005) Food advertising on Australian television: the extent of children's exposure. Health Prom Int;20:105-112. NSW Health. NSW Childhood Obesity Summit (2002). Retrieved December 28, 2007 from: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/obesity/adult/summit/summit.html US Department of Health and Human Services. (2001) The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. Rockville, Md: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General Wake M, Hardy P, Canterford L, Sawyer M, Carlin JB. (2006) Overweight, obesity and girth of Australian preschoolers: prevalence and socio-economic correlates. Int J Obes (Lond) Weiss R, Dziura J, Burgert TS, et al. (2004) Obesity and the metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents. N Engl J Med; 350: 2362-2374. Wiecha J l, Peterson K E, Ludwig D S, Kim J, Sobol A, Gortmaker S L. (2006) When children eat what they watch. Impact of television viewing on dietary intake in youth. Arch Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 160: 436-442 Willms JD, Tremblay MS, Katzmarzyk PT. (2003) Geographical and demographic variation in the prevalence of overweight in Canadian children. Obesity Res; 11:668 -73 Zuo Y, Norberg M, Wen LM, Rissel C. (2006) Estimates of overweight and obesity among pre-school aged children in Melbourne And Sydney. J Nut Dietetics, 63:179-182. Zywicki T J, Holt D and Ohlhausen M. (2004) Obesity and Advertising Policy. George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper, No. 04-45

References

Chapman K, Nicholas P, Supramaniam R. (2006) How much food advertising is there on Australian television? Health Promot Int; 21: 172-180.

Coon, K A, Tucker K L. (2002) Television and children’s consumption patterns. A review of the literature. Minerva Pediatrica. 54 (5):423-36

Cordain L, Gotshall RW, Boyd Eaton S, Boyd Eaton S III. (1998) Physical activity, energy expenditure, and fitness: an evolutionary perspective. Int J Sports Med; 19:328 -35

Ebbeling CB, Pawlak DB, Ludwig DS. (2002) Childhood obesity: public-health crisis, common sense cure. Lancet; 360: 473-82

Halford J C G, Gillespie J, Brown V, Pontin E E, Dovey T M. (2004) Effect of television advertisements for foods on food consumption in children. Appetite. 42:221-225

Hastings G, Stead M, McDermott L, Forsyth A, MacKintosh A M, Rayner M, Godfrey C, Caraher M, Angus K. (2003) Review of Research on the Effects of Food Promotion to Children. Prepared for the Food Standard Agency

Horri M and Vakili R. (2006) Evaluation of Cardiovascular and Lipid Profile Abnormalities in Obese Children and Adolescents. Iran J Med Sci June; Vol 31 No 2 87

Kelly, BP, and Chau JY. (2007) Children's television sub-standards: a call for significant amendments The Medical Journal of Australia. Volume 186 Number 1

Lobstein T, Dibb S. (2005) Evidence of a possible link between obesogenic food advertising and child overweight. The International Association for the study of Obesity. Obesity Reviews 6:203-208

McGinnis M J, Gootman J A, Kraak V I. (2006) Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity? Food and Nutrition Board, Board on Children, Youth and Families, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies

Neville L, Thomas M, and Bauman A. (2005) Food advertising on Australian television: the extent of children's exposure. Health Prom Int;20:105-112.

NSW Health. NSW Childhood Obesity Summit (2002). Retrieved December 28, 2007, from http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/obesity/adult/summit/summit.html

US Department of Health and Human Services. (2001) The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. Rockville, Md: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General

Wake M, Hardy P, Canterford L, Sawyer M, Carlin JB. (2006) Overweight, obesity and girth of Australian preschoolers: prevalence and socio-economic correlates. Int J Obes (Lond)

Weiss R, Dziura J, Burgert TS, et al. (2004) Obesity and the metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents. N Engl J Med; 350: 2362-2374.

Wiecha J l, Peterson K E, Ludwig D S, Kim J, Sobol A, Gortmaker S L. (2006) When children eat what they watch. Impact of television viewing on dietary intake in youth. Arch Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 160: 436-442

Willms JD, Tremblay MS, Katzmarzyk PT. (2003) Geographical and demographic variation in the prevalence of overweight in Canadian children. Obesity Res; 11:668 -73

Zuo Y, Norberg M, Wen LM, Rissel C. (2006) Estimates of overweight and obesity among pre-school aged children in Melbourne And Sydney. J Nut Dietetics, 63:179-182.

Zywicki T J, Holt D, and Ohlhausen M. (2004) Obesity and Advertising Policy. George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper, No. 04-45