Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -)

, Volume 184, Issue 1, pp 207–212 | Cite as

Food and beverage advertising during children’s television programming

  • P. Scully
  • A. Macken
  • D. Leddin
  • W. Cullen
  • C. Dunne
  • C. O. Gorman
Original Article



Increasing prevalence of overweight and obese children in developed countries poses a substantial threat to long-term health. One well-described factor is the amount of time spent watching television, with exposure to food advertising a known influence on food preferences and consumption patterns.


Following recent formulation of new rules regarding advertising of food during children’s programming, we sought to examine the advertising content in children-specific television broadcasts on Irish television.


Advertisement content analysis for 5 weekdays of children-specific television broadcasting from 0700 to 1700 hours on Irish television was performed. Data were coded and transferred to SPSS for analyses. Food and beverage advertisements were coded based on type of product, nutritional content, intended age group and outcome.


322 advertisements were broadcast during the recording period. 31 % (n = 101) of advertisements related to food or beverage products with 66.3 % (n = 68) of food advertisements being for foods that should be eaten in moderation. The most frequently recorded food advertisement was for fast food products (27.3 %, n = 24), followed by sweets/candy (21.6 %, n = 19) and dairy products (17.0 %, n = 15). The most frequently recorded beverage advertisement was for natural orange juices (46.2 %, n = 6). 54.7 % (n = 176) of advertisements were adult specific with 27.3 % (n = 88) being children specific. All food and beverage advertisements were associated with a positive outcome (n = 322).


These results demonstrate that food and beverages depicted in advertisements during children’s programming are predominantly unhealthy foods with high salt and sugar contents. The findings from this study again highlight the ongoing need for new rules regarding food advertising in children’s programming.


Television Food Beverage Obesity Advertising 


Conflict of interest

Dr. Scully has nothing to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Scully
    • 1
  • A. Macken
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • D. Leddin
    • 3
    • 4
  • W. Cullen
    • 4
  • C. Dunne
    • 4
  • C. O. Gorman
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.The Children’s Ark, University Hospital LimerickLimerickIreland
  2. 2.National Children’s Research CentreDublinIreland
  3. 3.Dalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.Centre for Interventions in Infection, Inflammation and Immunity (4i)Graduate Entry Medical SchoolLimerickIreland

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