Background and Objectives: Advertisements influence food consumption behaviour of children as they are the easiest target for food promotional activities. Hence objective was to study the prevalence of misleading food advertisements in India.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted over a period of 30 days to assess the food related advertisements against the guidelines laid down by Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA 2006). A total of 1200 advertisements, 900 (75%) in TV, 120 (10%) in magazines and 180 (15%) in newspaper were reviewed against guidelines for advertisement in FSSA 2006.
Results: Prevalence of misleading food advertisements was found to be 60%. The average number of food related advertisements was 15 ± 3.55 per hour on television. Majority (90%) of these were for food items which are linked foods High in Fat, sugar and Salt (HFSS). Common reasons for non-compliance were: promotion of a food item with gift (57%), use of celebrity picture on package (19%), false claims (14%), appealing with cartoons (10%).
Conclusion: Prevalence of misleading food advertisements was high. This is a cause for concern as the same is an indirect contributory factor in increase in prevalence of obesity in children in our country.
Kaushal N and Dudeja P
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