Food cues in children's television programs

Appetite. 2009 Feb;52(1):230-3. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2008.07.006. Epub 2008 Jul 22.


We examined the nutritional content of and characters' attitudes toward foods depicted in Public Broadcasting System (PBS) television programs aimed at children under age 5. Two-hundred and forty-five episodes from 10 programs were rated, totaling 136 h. There was almost twice the total airtime for depictions of unhealthy (321.03 min) versus healthy (184.72 min) foods, and significantly higher ratings for excessive consumption and valuing (characters' expressions of endorsement) of unhealthy versus healthy foods. Unhealthy foods were shown being valued significantly more than they were shown resulting in negative consequences. Our findings suggest concern for how foods are presented on children's television programs.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising / statistics & numerical data
  • Child, Preschool
  • Food Preferences
  • Food*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Nutritive Value
  • Television*