Study: TV ads = higher obesity risk for kids

Study shows a third of food ads aimed at kids and teens are for 'junk food'; 8- to 12-year olds hit hardest.

By Parija B. Kavilanz, CNNMoney.com senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Even with child obesity rates soaring in America, food marketers are bombarding kids with a steady diet of snack and candy ads, a new study said Wednesday.

In the study, "Food for Thought:Television Food Advertising to Children in the United States," the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation reviewed 1,638 hours of television targeting 2 to 17 year-olds from May to September of 2005.

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New food study says children between ages 8 to 12 watch the most number of food ads; 34 percent of all food targeting kids are for candy and snacks.

The report found kids are exposed to about 18,000 ads a year on average and that slightly more than a third, or 34 percent of those ads, are for candy and snack foods. Another 28 percent were for cereal and 10 percent were for fast food. A smaller portion of the ads were for dairy products and fruit juices.

But of the nearly 9,000 ads reviewed during the five months covered by the study, none were for fruits or vegetables, the foundation said, noting this was especially troubling given the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States.

A spokesman for Kaiser said no comparisons were available since it was the foundation's first major study on food ads and children.

Tweens aged 8 to 12 watched the most food ads, as many as 7,600 a year, the study found. Teens watched about 6,000 food ads a year and young children, 2 to 7, were exposed to about 4,400 a year, the study found.

The latest numbers from the federal government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underscore the growing problem of childhood obesity in the United States.

The numbers show that nearly 14 percent of 2- to 5-year-olds were obese in 2004, the latest figures available, up from 5 percent in 1980. The figure was 17.4 percent for teens, up from 5 percent.

The study did not evaluate how many other food ads kids see via other media including print, online, in-store and in-school marketing.

The Kaiser Family Foundation-funded study was conducted in collaboration with Indiana University.

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.