Health Highlights: March 29, 2007

Food is the most common product in televisions ads that target American children and teens, and many of those commercials are for junk food, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study released Thursday.

In this study, the largest ever to look at television food marketing to young people, researchers analyzed more than 1,600 hours of U.S. television programming broadcast in 2005, the Washington Post reported.

Children ages 8 to 12 watch the most food commercials, an average of 21 a day. That adds up to 7,600 food commercials (about 51 hours worth) a year, the study said. Teens, ages 13 to 17, see an average of 17 food ads a day (more than 6,000 per year), and children ages 2 to 7 see 12 food ads per day (4,400 a year).

The study found that 34 percent of television commercials aimed at children and teens were for candy and snacks, 28 percent were for cereal, 10 percent for fast foods, and 4 percent for dairy products. There were no commercials for fruit or vegetables, the Post reported.

After food, the most common products in televisions ads aimed at children and teens were music, video games and movies.

"The study is really important. It's the first time in over a decade that anybody has looked at television advertising aimed at children. And it's the first time that anyone has looked at such a huge sample of ads," Margo Wootan, director of nutrition for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, told the Post.

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