Unhealthy eating habits are one of the main risk factors for overweight/obesity, and food marketing plays a major role in their development. The aim of this study was to monitor the amount and the characteristics of food marketing directed to Italian children broadcasted on television (TV). The WHO tool to assess food and beverage multimedia marketing aimed at children was used to analyze TV recordings. Type of product branded, viewing time, channel's target, and broadcasting company were the exposure variables analyzed. The power of persuasive techniques was also assessed. Food products were categorized as either core or non-core products on the basis of their nutritional profile. A total of 320 h of TV broadcasting was analyzed, including 51.7 h of commercials. Food and beverages were the second most frequently advertised products, with an average of 6 food advertisements per hour during peak viewing time. A total of 23.8% of food advertisements were recorded during the time slot of 3:00 p.m. Considering food and beverage commercials, "humor" was the most frequently used primary persuasive technique, while the "image of the product/packaging" was the most commonly used secondary persuasive technique. Products specifically targeted to children were 94.3% non-core. Our findings indicate that core foods are highly underrepresented in TV commercials, especially during children TV programs and peak viewing time.
- nutritive value