The Frequency of Unhealthy Food Advertising on Mainland Chinese Television (TV) and Children and Adolescents’ Risk of Exposure to Them

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Zhou, Zhenghua ; Diao, Qinqin ; Shao, Nan ; Liang, Youke ; Lin, Li ; Lei, Yan ; Zheng, Lingmei (2015)

Objective To conduct an analysis of the frequency of unhealthy food advertising on mainland Chinese television (TV) and children and adolescents’ risk of exposure to them. Methods The frequencies of all types of advertisements (ads) on forty TV channels in mainland China, the exact ad broadcast times, and the name and brand of all snacks and western fast foods advertised were recorded from 0800 hours to 2400 hours on both a weekday and a weekend day in a week. The difference in the frequencies of the diverse types of ads over eight time intervals (each time interval was 2 hours) were compared, and the trends in ad frequencies during the time intervals were described. Results The TV channels broadcast 155 (91-183) (expressed as median [P 25-P 75]) food ads, 87 (38-123) snack ads, 49 (11-85) beverage ads, and 58 (25-76) ads of snacks suitable for limited consumption (SSLCs) in a day. The proportion of snack ads among food ads (SPF%) was 55.5% (40.3%-71.0%), and the proportion of SSLC ads among snack ads (LPS%) was 67.4% (55.4%-79.3%). The ad frequencies for food, snacks, SSLCs, and beverages demonstrated significant differences among the eight time intervals (all P=0.000). TV channels broadcast the most frequent ads for food, snacks, SSLCs, and beverages during the time interval from 2000 hours to 2200 hours among the eight time intervals. Conclusions Chinese children and adolescents may be at a high risk of exposure to unhealthy food advertising on TV. Reducing the exposure risk strongly requires multisectoral cooperation.
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