A study carried out by Adelaide's Flinders University indicates that 80% of food advertisements broadcast during television programmes targeted at children are for junk food. Just one in five adverts promote core food groups advocated for healthy eating, such as fruit and vegetables.

Researcher Julie Zuppa, who monitored 63 hours of children's viewing, said that 80%of the 544 food ads she saw advertised nutritionally marginal food products such as carbonated soft drinks, biscuits, ice cream and hamburgers. This was most striking on Saturday, when 38% of adverts were for food products.

The results of the study may not be surprising, as it is generally the manufacturers of added-value heavily processed foods which have the budget to devote to expensive television campaigns. They make worrying reading for nutrition experts keen to persuade kids of the benefits of a balanced diet. Dietary habits adopted in childhood often form the pattern for food consumption in later life.

There is currently no legislation in force to control this sort of advertising, but it is possible that health interest groups will lobby government on this issue.

  • Thirty percent of all food ads shown during children's programmes were for fastfood restaurants.
  • Nineteen percent of all food ads were for chocolates or sweets; a further 8% were for biscuits.
  • Just five percent of the ads were for bread and cereal core foods.