According to a recent report, ads for unhealthy snacks have increased, while marketing for healthier snack options, like yogurt, have leveled off. Researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity in the University of Connecticut state that approximately 40% of all beverage and food advertisements that youth see on television are for snacks. Moreover, there is an increased amount of advertising for snacks on mobile phone apps and social media.
To compile the report, CNN reported that the researchers evaluated the amount of snack ads that children saw in 2010, compared to 2014. They took a closer look to see how many ads were for cookies, chips and other unhealthier snacks, versus healthier choices like fruit, yogurt, and nuts.
Researchers discovered that children 2 years old to 5 viewed approximately 582 snack ads on television in 2014, a jump of 18% since 2010. Children 6 years old to 11 were exposed to 629 snack ads, a 10% jump from 2010; and youth 12 to 17 years old were exposed to 635 snack ads, a jump of 29%. Adults were not taken out of this equation, viewing 793 snack ads in 2014, a 32% jump from 2010.
Online snacks ads were less prevalent in 2010, however food companies placed millions of ads on YouTube and Facebook in 2014.
The report zeroed in on 43 companies that paid a minimum of $1 million when it came to snack food brand advertising. Some companies that were included in the research were: PepsiCo, General Mills and Kellogg Company. The report reviewed Nielsen syndicated data when it came to calculating exposure to television ads in 2010 and 2014, as well as comScore syndicated data to review website advertising in 2014.
The majority of snack ads focused on savory and sweet foods, with only about 25% of these food advertised considered healthy by the USDA Smart Snack standards. These guidelines are calculated by levels of fats, sugar, calories and sodium, and help rate what snacks can be sold in schools.
Within some of the age categories, unhealthy snack ads increased from from 2010 to 2014. Such was the case for savory snack ads to children, increasing 23%; while sweet snack ads to teens increased by 17%. Unfortunately, ads for yogurt products, which fit into the USDA Smart Snacks standards as healthy, did not increase or decrease, ads simply remained the same.
The good news is, the number of ads for some other healthy snacks did increase. Fruit ads jumped between 3.5 to 6 times, depending on the age group, and the ads for nuts almost doubled. Still, despite these increases, advertising for nuts and fruit only show for approximately 5% of snack advertisements.