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.