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The ads your kids are exposed to on the way to school

The ads your kids are exposed to on the way to schoolOn the way to school on Monday, pay attention and look at the ads that your and your kids are bombarded with. According to this study conducted by Australian researchers, children are exposed to ads for junk food, sweets, soft drinks and alcohol 5 times more than healthy foods on the way to school than in other places. Billboards, posters, and other forms of outdoor ads in the vicinity of primary schools abounds and 80% of these are for “non-core foods, those that are energy dense and nutrient poor.” Other findings are:

  • Sweetened drinks, especially softdrinks, ranked first as the most frequently advertised, followed by alcoholic drinks and coffee.
  • Areas around primary schools have twice the number of advertisements compared to areas away from school.
  • Alcoholic drinks were the single most advertised product within a 250 meter distance of primary schools

Studies have shown that children are responsive to the ads around them. There are concerns that this advertising strategy of food companies is encouraging consumption of non-healthy food, leading to obesity. But I am wondering about ads for alcoholic drinks – are they meant for the kids or for the adults taking them to school? Even if they are targeting adults, are they also making an impression on the kids, perhaps grooming them as alcohol consumers of the future? I can also be grateful that cigarette ads are long banned in many areas. Otherwise, I’m sure they’d be on top of the list of most advertised products.

In a previous post, I wrote about the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative launched by the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ (BBB) to curb advertising of non-healthy food. Let’s hope this initiative will also look into advertising around schools.


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