Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What's Actually Advertised to Kids in Canada

In 1847, the English Parliament passed the "Infant Relief Act" which was meant to,
"protect children from, "from their own lack of experience and from the wiles of pushing tradesmen and moneylenders"
Too bad it's not enacted in Canada where as I blogged about yesterday television channels like Treehouse and YTV target moms and their children in encouraging advertisers to consider them for their incredible reach and "kidfluence".

So what exactly are YTV and Treehouse advertising?

Well if Dr. Brian Cook's preliminary results are any indication - a lot of unhealthy food.

You see Brian recently was involved in a study looking at the top children's television channels in 12 separate countries and even more recently he reported on the Canadian results at the recent Centre for Science in the Public Interest conference.

So what did he find?

Well over 4 days of broadcasting in January, with Ontario, Quebec and Alberta's top children's channels recorded from 6am to 10am the following pie chart demonstrates what was being advertised:

Over a third of ads were for foods and when scored by his Australian colleagues for healthfulness, 95% came back unhealthy with an almost even split between fast food, sugary cereals, high fat/sugar or salt spreads/soups/pastas and snack foods and sugar sweetened snack bars:

So does that compare with adult advertisements?


The same group also recorded and scored 3 days of adult programming and found that only 19% of advertisements were for food and of those, 44% were for healthy foods:

Moral of this story?

I think Brian said it best at his talk,
"TV food ads to children are dominated by products that undermine parents’ and public health professionals’ efforts to promote healthy diets and physical activity"
Perhaps that's why a study produced by U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research and published in this month's Journal of Law and Economics concluded that banning fast food advertisements targeting children would reduce the number of overweight children aged 3 to 11 by 18%, and for adolescents (12- to 18-year-olds) by 14%.

I tell you one thing, it sure as heck can't hurt!

[Thanks again to Dr. Brian Cook from Toronto Public Health for sharing his data and giving such a great talk]