Television advertising is an effective medium for reaching young children and influencing their food choice. Studies have shown that messages conveyed by food advertisements are rarely consistent with healthy eating messages. With the increasing purchasing power of children, food companies are focusing on children as lucrative target audiences. Extensive marketing of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods to children potentially contributes to the 'obesogenic' environment. This study aims to determine the degree and nature of food advertisements that Singaporean children are exposed to on television. Ninety-eight hours of childrens television programmes broadcast by free-to-air stations were recorded and analysed. Advertisements with the intent of selling and sponsorships for programmes were included. Foods advertised were considered healthy if they met the criteria of the Healthier Choice Symbol in Singapore. Of the 1344 advertisements and sponsorships identified, 33% were for food. Of the food advertisements, 38% were considered healthy, while 57% were not. Candy, confectionery and fast food advertisements accounted for 46% of total food advertisements. Significantly more unhealthy food advertisements were screened on weekends compared with weekdays (p < 0.001). This is the first content analysis of television advertisements in Singapore and the results of this study provide background data on the extent of food advertising that children in Singapore are exposed to. Consistent with other countries, unhealthy food advertisements continue to dominate childrens television programmes. This study suggests that Singaporean children are exposed to high levels of advertising for unhealthy foods. The study provides a baseline against which measures aimed at reducing childrens exposure to television food advertising can be evaluated.
- food advertising