Food Content of TV Shows Seen by Children in Peru: A Double Dose of Food Messages?
The public health community generally agrees that TV exposure influences children’s cognitions and behaviors. Research on TV’s influence on children’s eating habits has mainly analyzed advertisements aired during TV programs for children and how they influence children’s food preferences and practices. Yet little is known about the food messages children encounter in the content of their favorite programs. Most previous studies may have underestimated children’s total exposure by failing to take food exposures within programming into account. The current study addresses this by examining the amount and characteristics of food content appearing in commercials and the content of shows seen by children in Peru. Using a sample of children’s TV programs and the ads run during the programs’ commercial breaks, it was found that overall, 17% of all commercials in the sample were for food and beverages, and 28% of all the program content included food items such as water, fruit, snacks, or prepared meals. Overall, children in Peru seem to be exposed to TV messages about food and beverages that mostly should be consumed only sparingly.