To comprehensively assess the extent, nature and impact of unhealthy food advertising targeted to children on New Zealand television.
Four weekdays and four weekend days were randomly selected over the period June–August 2015. Programming was recorded from 06.00 to 00.00 hours (midnight), for a total of 432 h. Audience ratings were used to identify children’s peak viewing times.
The three major free-to-air channels.
The majority of foods advertised (n 1807) were unhealthy; 68·5 % of food advertisements included at least one food not permitted to be marketed to children according to the WHO nutrient profiling model. The mean hourly rate of unhealthy food advertising was 9·1 (sd 5·2). One-third of unhealthy food advertisements included a promotional character and one-third a premium offer. About 88 % of unhealthy food advertisements were shown during children’s peak viewing times. If unhealthy food advertisements were to be restricted during times when at least 25 % of children are watching television, this would reduce the average unhealthy food advertising impact by 24 % during weekdays and 50 % during weekend days, and if the WHO instead of the current nutrient profiling model were used to restrict unhealthy food advertising to children, the average impact would be reduced by 24 % during weekdays and 29 % during weekend days.
Current self-regulation is ineffective in protecting children from exposure to unhealthy food advertising on television. The WHO nutrient profiling model needs to be used to restrict unhealthy food advertising, especially during children’s peak viewing times.
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