Spain ranks fifth among European countries for childhood obesity. Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and soft drinks (SDs) are consumed by 81% of the Spanish children weekly. Advertising is one of the factors that contributes to an obesogenic environment. This study correlated longitudinally the nutritional values of SSBs and SDs and advertising discursive strategies between 2013 and 2018 for all media. A mixed-methods approach was applied that included a quantitative analysis of advertising spend data, a content analysis and a study of the discursive strategies used in advertisements. In addition, the Nutri-score system was used in order to determine the nutritional quality of the beverages. The results were analyzed applying the Spanish advertising regulatory framework for obesity prevention. The main findings indicate an association between low nutritional value beverage advertisements and a discourse based on hedonistic elements. In order to prevent childhood obesity in Spain, a stricter regulation of advertising is necessary, especially in aspects such as the language used to present products and celebrity endorsements.
Keywords: childhood obesity; food advertising; food policy; nutrient profiling; soft drinks; sugar-sweetened beverages.