Research reveals twice as many ads promoting unhealthy foods are shown during children’s peak viewing times.
A study found children were exposed to as many as 1,000 junk food TV ads on a single network in 2016, reports Yahoo 7.
This “conservative” estimate equates to approximately five hours of continuous viewing, according to the research published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Professor John Kelly, CEO of the National Heart Foundation – which commissioned the study – described the research findings as “disturbing”.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide worked with telecommunications engineers to design a bespoke TV monitoring system to capture the number of ads shown on one TV network (which took in four channels) over an entire year.
Prof Lisa Smithers says the research confirms Australian children are getting “quite a lot of exposure” to junk food advertising.
“On average Australian data suggests that children aged five to eight years watch about 80 minutes of TV per day,” she said.
“Using the 24 hour clock, our conservative estimate says that children will probably be exposed to over 800 advertisements for unhealthy foods – which is about four hours of continuous content.”
In total, more than 100,000 food ads were logged over the 30,000 hours of television monitored in 2016.
Snack foods, crumbed/battered meats, takeaway/fast food and sugary drinks were among the most frequently advertised foods.
Children were exposed to twice as much unhealthy food advertising as healthy food advertising, according to the analysis.
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