Background: In the light of increasing childhood obesity, the role of food advertisements relayed on television (TV) is of high interest. There is evidence of food commercials having an impact on children’s food preferences, choices, consumption and obesity. We describe the product categories advertised during kids programmes, the type of food promoted and the characteristics of food commercials targeting children. Methods: A content analysis of the commercials aired during the kids programmes of six Swiss, one German and one Italian stations was conducted. The commercials were collected over a 6-month period in 2006. Results: Overall, 1365 h of kids programme were recorded and 11 613 advertisements were found: 3061 commercials (26.4%) for food, 2696 (23.3%) promoting toys, followed by those of media, cleaning products and cosmetics. Regarding the broadcast food advertisements, 55% were for fast food restaurants or candies. Conclusion: The results of the content analysis suggest that food advertising contributes to the obesity problem: every fourth advertisement is for food, half of them for products high in sugar and fat and hardly any for fruit or vegetables. Long-term exposure to this distortion of the pyramid of recommended food should be considered in the discussion of legal restrictions for food advertising targeting children.
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