Content analysis of children's television advertising in relation to dental health

Br Dent J. 2005 Dec 10;199(11):710-2; discussion 713. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4812967.


This paper provides some disturbing facts and figures about the amount of television being watched by children. In addition, it reports on the volume and type of television advertising aimed at young people, both in the United Kingdom and other developed countries. In view of recent public and professional concern as to the possible adverse effects of food advertising on children's health, this study set out to examine what proportion of television advertisements, directed at children, promoted products potentially harmful to dental health. Forty-one hours of children's television programming broadcast on ITV1, the main UK commercial channel, were recorded on to videotape for subsequent analysis. Almost 1,000 adverts were analysed; each was timed and broadly categorised as relating to a food/drink product or non food/drink product. Advertisements for food and drink were further subdivided according to their sugar and/or acid content. We found that, on average, 24 adverts were shown per broadcast hour, which accounted for 15.8% of the total schedule time. 34.8% of adverts related to food/drink products, and 95.3% of these promoted products that were deemed potentially cariogenic or erosive. The most frequently promoted food/drink products included breakfast cereals with added sugar (26.3%), confectionery (23.7%) and non-carbonated soft drinks (18.1%). It is very concerning that, despite recent specific codes of practice outlined by the Independent Television Commission for Children's Advertising, many food and drink products promoted during children's programming are potentially damaging to dental health.

MeSH terms

  • Acids / adverse effects
  • Advertising*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Caries / etiology*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Food* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Oral Health
  • Television*
  • Tooth Erosion / etiology*
  • United Kingdom


  • Acids
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Sucrose