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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2012 February;64(1):15-26


language: English, Italian

The reverse pyramid: a quali-quantitative study about food advertising inside children’s television programmes

Pellai A. 1, Vetrano S. 1, Nobile M. 2, Luti C. 2

1 University of Milan, Milan, Italy; 2 Postgraduate School of Public Health, Preventive Medicine, University of Milan, Milan, Italy


AIM:Considering how eating habits affect the health of children and taking into account the influence of advertising messages, we wanted to investigate the quantity and the typology of advertising on air during children’s television programmes.
METHODS: The research was conducted beginning in January 2008 up to March 2008. During this period all children’s television programmes, in which cartoons are aired were recorded during third week of each month, for a total of 179 hours 27 minutes and 18 seconds.
RESULTS: The research allowed to analyze 3495 adverts; 485 (13.88%) of them promoted foodstuffs, and among these a massive presence of confectionery product ads (304 out of 485, i.e. 62.68%) stands out.
CONCLUSION: In conclusion a food pyramid based exclusively on the typology of foodstuffs advertised in the examined adverts has been built, in order to compare it to the correct food pyramid. The base of the pyramid we obtained is constantly composed by sweets and the top by fruits and vegetables.
A child watching a television program addressed to him, must see commercials that advertise foodstuffs in 42.45% of cases, and among these 58.59% advertise sweets. This highlights the absolute need to protect children from aggressive marketing and advertising of foodstuffs through alimentary and media educational programmes, as well as through legislation regulating food commercials directed to children, as already happens in many European countries.

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alberto.pellai@unimi.it c/o