Self-regulation by industry of food marketing is having little impact during children's preferred television

Int J Pediatr Obes. 2011 Oct;6(5-6):401-8. doi: 10.3109/17477166.2011.606321. Epub 2011 Aug 12.


Objective: To examine the efficacy of self-regulation of food marketing to children by comparing, during children's preferred viewing on television, the differences in food/beverage marketing between two groups of corporations: 17 corporations participating in the Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CAI) and 35 corporations not participating (non-CAI) in this initiative.

Methods: The food/beverage marketing activities of CAI and non-CAI corporations during 99.5 hours of children's preferred viewing on television were compared. First, the preferred television viewing of 272 children aged 10-12 years from Ontario and Quebec who completed TV viewing journals for a seven-day period was determined. A total of 32 television stations were simultaneously recorded, and a content analysis of children's preferred viewing was conducted and included coding all food/beverage promotions and their nutritional content. Each food/beverage promotion was classified by corporation type (i.e., CAI or non-CAI).

Results: The CAI was responsible for significantly more food/beverage promotions, and used media characters and repetition more frequently in their food/beverage promotions than the non-CAI group. Nutritionally, the CAI food/beverage promotions were higher in fats, sugar, sodium and energy per 100 grams. A significantly greater proportion of the CAI food/beverage promotions were considered 'less healthy' compared to the non-CAI promotions.

Conclusion: With the exception of the four corporations that did not market to children at all, the commitments that have been made in the CAI are not having a significant impact on the food and beverage marketing environment on television which is viewed by 10-12-year-olds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advertising*
  • Child
  • Food Industry*
  • Humans
  • Marketing
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • Television*