To examine the number of food advertisements African American children are exposed to during children's television programming aired on predominantly African American and general television stations.
A content analysis was conducted to identify and analyze the health-related content (HRC) and physical activity–related content (PARC) of food advertisements shown during children's television programming.
Three sets of television advertisements from 3 stations (Black Entertainment Television, The WB [Warner Bros], and Disney Channel) served as the sample during a 1-week period in July 2005 (July 11-15), from 3 PM to 9 PM.
In total, 1098 advertisements were recorded, with 256 food and beverage commercials used for this study. Results indicate that 36.3% of all commercials were based on fast food restaurants, 31.3% were for drinks, 16.8% were for candy, 13.7% were for cereals, and 2.0% were for snacks (percentages do not total 100 because of rounding). Compared with The WB and Disney Channel, Black Entertainment Television had significantly (P=.001) more food and beverage advertisements. Few HRC or PARC advertisements were shown. Of 256 food and beverage commercials, only 8.2% contained HRC and 9.4% had PARC. Also, the HRC and PARC scenes contained messages that were implied vs explicitly talking about the health or physical benefits of the product.
African American children are overexposed to numerous types of food and beverage advertisements. These advertisements do not provide an adequate level of positive HRC and PARC messages. Consequently, the messages that are portrayed may undermine efforts to teach African American children about the importance of healthy living and physical activity.