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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.
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