Objective: To evaluate the effects of Chile's 2016 regulation restricting child-directed marketing of products high in energy, saturated fats, sodium and sugars on reducing children's exposure to 'high-in' television food advertising.
Design: Television use by pre-schoolers and adolescents was assessed via surveys in the months prior to implementation and a year after implementation. Hours and channels of television use were linked with the amount of high-in food advertising observed in corresponding content analyses of food advertisements (ads) from popular broadcast and cable channels to estimate changes in exposure to food ads from these channels.
Setting: Middle-lower and lower-income neighbourhoods in Santiago, Chile.
Participants: Pre-schoolers (n 879; mothers reporting) and adolescents (n 753; self-reporting).
Results: Pre-schoolers' and adolescents' exposure to high-in food advertising in total decreased significantly by an average of 44 and 58 %, respectively. Exposure to high-in food advertising with child-directed appeals, such as cartoon characters, decreased by 35 and 52 % for pre-schoolers and adolescents, respectively. Decreases were more pronounced for children who viewed more television. Products high in sugars were the most prevalent among the high-in ads seen by children after implementation.
Conclusions: Following Chile's 2016 child-directed marketing regulation, children's exposure to high-in food advertising on popular broadcast and cable television decreased significantly but was not eliminated from their viewing. Later stages of the regulation are expected to eliminate the majority of children's exposure to high-in food advertising from television.
Keywords: Adolescents; Advertising; Child-directed; Children; Food; Marketing; Nutrition.