Last month, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a report on "Adver-Gaming", where candy and snack food companies often market their websites to children in an effort to sell them a particular brand. Two new journal articles this month take another look at advertising food to children.
Caraher et al conducted a policy review of the regulations for advertising food to children at a global level and in 20 different countries. They found that one major issue is getting in the way of policy development: broadcast media is no longer defined or restricted by geographical barriers. This makes it impossible for any one country to regulate what their residents see because the media may be broadcast from another location not following the laws they set in place.
In a study of over 3,000 New Zealand children, Utter et al found that the more television children and teens watch, the more likely they are to consume soda, sweets, snacks, and fast food. In a direct quote from their abstract: "Both children and adolescents watching two or more hours of TV a day were more than twice as likely to drink soft drinks five times a week or more, eat hamburgers at least once a week, and eat French fries at least once a week."
You can find more research on the media’s presentation of food and nutritional messages in the CMCH Database of Research.