Kaiser Study: Tweens See Most Food Ads

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Kids 8-12-years old see an average 21 food ads a day--more than 7,600 a year--most of which are for candy and snacks (34%), cereal (28%), and fast food (10%). Teenagers are next at at 17 a day or about 6,000 a year.

The smallest fry actually see the fewest food ads, with children 2-7 seeing about a dozen ads a day, which is attributed in part to a TV diet heavy on public TV and limited-commercial outlets like Disney.

That's according to a new study of food marketing released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which was billing it as the largest-ever study of TV food advertising to kids.

The study, Food for Thought: Television Food Advertising to Children in the United States, drew those conclusions from content analysis combined with data on viewing habits.The study comes just days after the first meeting of the

Task Force on Media and Childhood Obesity

, a government-industry group that plans to report by July on ways to combat childhood obesity by modifying marketing practices and encouraging more exercise and nutrition education.
Dan Jaffe of the Association of National Advertisers, who is also participating in the task force, took issue with several parts of the study in his blog Wednesday, pointing out that the Kaiser study was of advertising in 2005 and saying that a lot has changed since then, including a concerted effort by the industry to change its marketing practices to kids..

The Surgeon General has said that childhood obesity will soon become the nation's top public health crisis, and TV advertisers have taken note, modifying the ratio of snack ads to ads for healthier foods and launching nutrition-education campaigns. But the industry has had some help from government. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin was one of the driving forces behind the task force, while Federal Trade Commission Chair Deborah Platt Majoras has made it clear that advertisers should "

trim the marketing fat

."

On Capitol Hill, Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) has made food marketing a key issue. He teamed with Martin on the task force and spoke at the Kaiser study unveiling.

“This study is a wake-up call that we all must do more to address the impact of food advertising on children,” he said.  “The dramatic rise in childhood obesity rates is a something that cannot be ignored.  On a daily basis, the average child in America is exposed to dozens of television advertisements for junk food.”

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