A new study finds that the majority of food advertisements appearing during preschool television programs link food with happiness.. In “Food-Related Advertising on Preschool Television: Building Brand Recognition in Young Viewers,” researchers analyzed television programming, including advertisements and sponsor promotions, on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Disney and Nickelodeon between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the Spring of 2005.
In 96 half-hour blocks of programming, the three networks had a total of 130 food-related advertisements.
More than half of the advertisements or promotions were aimed specifically at children, with the majority promoting fast food restaurant chains or sweetened cereals.
Most of the advertisements linked the various products with fun, happiness, excitement, and/or energy – building brand recognition and positive associations, not necessarily immediate sales – through various characters, logos and slogans.
With child obesity rates increasing, the study authors recommend that pediatricians talk with parents about the effects of food advertising on young children.