To evaluate the feasibility of the UK Nutrient Profile (NP) model for identifying ‘unhealthy’ food advertisements using a case study of New Zealand television advertisements.
Four weeks of weekday television from 15.30 hours to 18.30 hours was videotaped from a state-owned (free-to-air) television channel popular with children. Food advertisements were identified and their nutritional information collected in accordance with the requirements of the NP model. Nutrient information was obtained from a variety of sources including food labels, company websites and a national nutritional database.
From the 60 h sample of weekday afternoon television, there were 1893 advertisements, of which 483 were for food products or retailers. After applying the NP model, 66 % of these were classified as advertising high-fat, high-salt and high-sugar (HFSS) foods; 28 % were classified as advertising non-HFSS foods; and the remaining 2 % were unclassifiable. More than half (53 %) of the HFSS food advertisements were for ‘mixed meal’ items promoted by major fast-food franchises. The advertising of non-HFSS food was sparse, covering a narrow range of food groups, with no advertisements for fresh fruit or vegetables.
Despite the NP model having some design limitations in classifying real-world televised food advertisements, it was easily applied to this sample and could clearly identify HFSS products. Policy makers who do not wish to completely restrict food advertising to children outright should consider using this NP model for regulating food advertising.