The effect of screen advertising on children's dietary intake: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Obes Rev. 2019 Apr;20(4):554-568. doi: 10.1111/obr.12812. Epub 2018 Dec 21.


Evidence indicates that screen advertising for unhealthy food results in significant increases in dietary intake among children. This review was undertaken with the main aim of estimating the quantitative effect of screen advertising in experimental and nonexperimental conditions on children's dietary intake. Systematic searches were undertaken of interdisciplinary databases. Studies from 1980 to April 2018, all geography and languages, were included; participants were children and adolescents aged between 2 and 18 years; the intervention was screen advertising; and the outcome was dietary intake. Meta-analyses were conducted for measured and nonmeasured outcomes. Food advertising was found to increase dietary intake among children (age range 2-14, mean 8.8 years) in experimental conditions for television (TV) advertising and advergames. Meta-analysis revealed that children exposed to food advertising on TV (11 studies) and advergames (five studies) respectively consumed an average 60.0 kcal (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.1-116.9) and 53.2 kcal (95% CI, 31.5-74.9) more than children exposed to nonfood advertising. There was also an effect by body mass index (BMI). Findings from nonexperimental studies revealed that exposure to TV food advertising was positively associated with and predictive of dietary intake in children. Short-term exposure to unhealthy food advertising on TV and advergames increases immediate calorie consumption in children.

Keywords: child and adolescent health; food advertising; obesity; policy.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake
  • Fast Foods
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Television*