Children do not watch more food commercials on television today than they did at any other point in the last 35 years, according to a US study published yesterday (4 June).

The research, published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, found that adverts for junk food makes up only 3.3% of commercials. Furthermore, the study said: "The dramatic increase in childhood obesity rates in the past several decades does not appear to be mirrored by similar changes in food advertising exposure."

The study's findings are similar to those of an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, published Friday. The FTC study concluded: "Children are not exposed to more food ads on television than they were in the past."
 
The research has been welcomed by consumer group the Centre for Consumer Freedom.

J. Justin Wilson, senior research analyst at the CCF, commented: "Food commercials have been around since Dick Tracy sold kids on Ovaltine. It's only recently that we've seen such a dramatic increase in childhood obesity. Activists don't realize that ads don't actually make kids cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs."

Wilson continued: "These studies suggest that the hype about TV commercials is diverting attention from the real cause of childhood obesity: physical inactivity."