Objective: To examine the nature of the link between food advertising in UK magazines aimed at children and young people and Internet food marketing, to establish whether consideration should be given to tightening existing controls.
Design: A review and descriptive analysis of food advertising found in a sample of the top five magazine titles aimed at a range of ages of children and young people between November 2004 and August 2005 and of the Internet food marketing sites to which readers were directed.
Results: Food advertising appeared as 'cover-mount' free gifts and as part of the main bound issue. Children aged 6-10 years were the most frequent recipients of food-based free gifts, all of which were confectionery. No food advertising was found in magazines aimed at pre-school children and it formed a small percentage of total advertising in the magazines aimed at children of school age and above. Most food advertisements were for 'less healthy' foods, although advertisements for 'healthier' food products did appear infrequently. Almost half of food advertisements directed readers towards Internet food marketing sites. We found evidence that these sites are using at least some of the 'marketing tricks' which have been identified as a cause for concern.
Conclusions: Proposed restrictions on broadcast media may lead to more food advertising via other non-broadcast means. We suggest monitoring the effect of such changes in print and online advertising and that consideration be given to restricting marketing techniques used on websites aimed at children and young people.