May 25, 2012
A recently released Rudd Report, “Trends in Television Food Advertising to Young People: 2011 Update,” documents a five percent decline in total food and beverage advertising seen by children in 2011 compared with 2010. Adolescent exposure remained the same. While exposure is down, children continue to view approximately 13 ads per day that almost exclusively promote unhealthy foods.
Rudd Center researchers examined children’s exposure to food advertising on all television programming and found some slight improvements, while also documenting troublesome trends.
- The average 2-to-11 year old saw 12.8 food and beverage ads per day in 2011 compared with 13.4 ads in 2010. While the reduction in 2011 somewhat reverses the upward trend in 2010, it still exceeds children’s average annual ad exposure from 2006 to 2009.
- Adolescents viewed 16.2 food and beverage ads per day in 2011 and 2010. Although 2011 was the first year since 2007 that the rate did not increase, adolescents viewed 27 percent more ads in 2011 than in 2007.
- Advertising for the least nutritious categories of food including fast food; cereal; carbonated beverages; and juice, fruit drinks, and sports drinks declined in 2011, but youth exposure to candy advertising from 2009 to 2011 increased by 55 to 70 percent.
This analysis reveals a mixed impact of the Better Business Bureaus Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), a self-regulatory program working to reduce ads aimed at children. Compared with 2004, the year with the highest child exposure to food ads in this analysis, children now view 8 percent fewer food and beverage ads overall. However, compared with 2007, the year prior to the implementation of the CFBAI, children are now viewing 5 percent more food and beverage ads in total.