BACKGROUND: Children's eating habits and their food consumption have direct relations with obesity, diabetes, cancers, hypertension and coronary heart disease. Television advertisements directly affect children's eating habits and their food consumption. This study was conducted in order to examine television advertisements and children's food consumption while watching television and their desire to purchase goods that they see on television advertisements. METHODS: In the first stage of the study, content analysis of the television advertisements was conducted. In the second stage of the study, a questionnaire (check list) was developed in order to examine children's food consumption while watching television and their purchasing requests while shopping in the supermarket. It was given to 347 mothers who have children aged between 3 and 8 years. RESULTS: When the results of the study were examined it was found that the time devoted to children's programs was approximately 121 min and the advertisements during this period were approximately 35 min. A total of 344 of the 775 television advertisements shown were related to food. It was also found that most of the food advertisements were about candy/chocolate, chips, milk and milk products such as cheese, yoghurt, and breakfast cereals. The results also revealed that 89.6% of the children either drank or ate something while watching television and the food they consumed most while watching television were fruits, soft drinks, popcorn/nuts, cake, chips and candy/chocolate. The results also revealed that 40.3% of the children asked their parents to purchase the goods that they saw on the television advertisements and that 8.9% of them argued with their parents and/or cried in order for their parents to buy that particular product. It was found that the children tended to request more sweetened products such as candy, ice-cream, biscuit, cake or soft drinks. CONCLUSION: More than half of the food presented in television advertisements were rich in fat and sugar. Children ask their parents to buy the goods they see on television advertisements both while watching television and while shopping. Television advertisements especially affect young children's unhealthy food consumption.
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