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The topic of advertising to children has been all over the news lately; here are two reasons why:

First, a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children are the targets of ad campaigns called "advergaming" which combine online games with a company’s logo and brand message.  It’s one of the newest trends among companies that want to grab kids’ attention for longer than the time it takes to see or hear a commercial.  Candy and snack food companies are most often the creators of these games, which are often designed to be competitive so that kids return often to better their scores (and see repetitive brand messages and logos at the same time!).  When they get bored with these online games, they can always look at their snacks, lunch boxes, toys, toothbrushes or screensavers, all marked with the brand names of their favorite candy or the characters on their favorite television shows.  Some companies are now targeting toddlers and even infants.

The other big issue in the news is advertising junk food to kids on television.  Did you know that half the ads on television are for food?  Policy makers would love to limit this, but television networks are worried about losing advertising revenue by turning away all the junk food sponsors. Tony Blair is threatening to restrict junk food advertising if the UK food and drinks industry can’t come up with a solution to the problem. 

You can find more research on the media’s presentation of food and nutritional messages in the CMCH Database of Research.

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