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In the light of Chile’s comprehensive new restriction on unhealthy food marketing, we analyse food advertising on Chilean television prior to the first and final phases of implementation of the restriction.
Content analysis of marketing strategies of 6976 advertisements, based on products’ nutritional quality. Statistical analysis of total and child audience reached using television ratings data.
Advertising from television aired between 06.00 and 00.00 hours during two random composite weeks across April–May 2016 from the four broadcast and four cable channels with the largest youth audiences.
Food ads represented 16 % of all advertising; 34 % of food ads featured a product high in energy, saturated fats, sugars and/or salt (HEFSS), as defined by the initial regulation. HEFSS ads were seen by more children and contained more child-directed marketing strategies than ads without HEFSS foods. If HEFSS advertising was restricted only in programmes where 20 % are children aged 4–12 years, 31 % of children’s and 8 % of the general audience’s HEFSS advertising exposure would be reduced. The newest 06.00–22.00 hours restriction captures 80 % of all audience exposure.
HEFSS advertising was seen by a large proportion of children before Chile’s regulation. Chile’s first implementation based on audience composition should reduce a third of this exposure and its second restriction across the television day should eliminate most of the exposure. The current study is a crucial first step in evaluating how Chile’s regulation efforts will impact children’s diets and obesity prevalence.
Front-of-package (FOP) marketing strategies of a wide variety of beverages were catalogued to examine the prevalence of each strategy prior to a sweeping Chilean restriction of child-directed marketing aimed at reducing obesity-related disease among Chile’s youth.
Photographs of 1005 beverage packages were quantitatively content-analysed to code whether a variety of child-directed, health-oriented and other marketing strategies (e.g. sales promotions) were present on each product’s FOP. Strategies were then analysed based on beverages’ product category, total sugar, energy and tax status (beverages with added sugars are taxed at different rates).
Photographs were taken in six urban supermarkets in Santiago, Chile, representing five different supermarket chains.
Beverages using child-directed characters or nature/fruit references were higher in total sugar and beverages with child-directed characters or childhood/family references were higher in energy than beverages without these respective strategies. Of the beverages taxed at the highest rate (greatest amount of added sugars), 49 % used nutrition and health appeals and 80 % used nature or fruit appeals. Plain waters and plain milks were less likely than other selected product categories to use health-oriented appeals or multiple FOP strategies in combination.
FOP marketing on beverages varied according to the nutritional quality of the product, with heavier use of health-oriented and child-directed strategies in less healthy products. Marketing activities warrant continued observation to evaluate how industry responds to new marketing restrictions as these restrictions are evaluated in the light of existing taxes and other regulatory efforts to improve diets and reduce obesity-related disease.
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