Food Advertisements Boon or Bane: A Prevalence Study of Misleading Food Advertisements in India

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.
: 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.
: 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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