Television Food Advertising and the Prevalence of Childhood Overweight and Obesity: A Multicountry Comparison

Public Health Nutr. 2010 Jul;13(7):1003-12. doi: 10.1017/S1368980009992850. Epub 2009 Dec 17.


Objective: To estimate the contribution of television (TV) food advertising to the prevalence of obesity among 6-11-year-old children in Australia, Great Britain (England and Scotland only), Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden and the United States.

Design: Data from contemporary representative studies on the prevalence of childhood obesity and on TV food advertising exposure in the above countries were entered into a mathematical simulation model. Two different effect estimators were used to calculate the reduction in prevalence of overweight and obesity in the absence of TV food advertising in each country; one based on literature and one based on experts' estimates.

Setting: Six- to eleven-year-old children in six Western countries.

Results: Estimates of the average exposure of children to TV food advertising range from 1.8 min/d in The Netherlands to 11.5 min/d in the United States. Its contribution to the prevalence of childhood obesity is estimated at 16%-40% in the United States, 10%-28% in Australia and Italy and 4%-18% in Great Britain, Sweden and The Netherlands.

Conclusions: The contribution of TV advertising of foods and drinks to the prevalence of childhood obesity differs distinctly by country and is likely to be significant in some countries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advertising / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Female
  • Food Industry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marketing
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Television*