Cross-Sectional Evaluation of Food Items Preferred by Adolescents under the Influence of Television Advertisements

Derya Dikmen, Ezgi Bellikci-Koyu, Kubra Isgin-Atici, Elif Inan-Eroglu, Asli Akyol, Aylin Ayaz, Reyhan Nergiz-Unal, Zehra Buyuktuncer


Background: Food and beverage advertisements on television play a significant role in food preferences, especially among children and adolescents. This study aimed to evaluate foods and beverages advertised on television and purchased by adolescents or their families using the World Health Organization (WHO) nutrient profiling model.

Study design: A cross-sectional study.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was performed on 2,699 students (1380 males and 1319 females) aged 11-16 in Ankara, Turkey, in 2015. Socio-demographic characteristics, television-viewing habits, and the tendency to purchase foods and beverages under the influence of TV advertisements were recorded. The body weight and height were measured by the researchers. All reported food and beverage items (n  =  284) were evaluated and classified as permitted or not permitted to advertise, according to the WHO nutrient profile model (2015).

Results: The majority (69.8%) of students were underweight/normal weight, whereas 13.3% and 16.9% were classified as overweight and obese, respectively. A total of 69.6% of adolescents declared that they were influenced by food advertisements, and 66.4% bought those foods. The most purchased products included cakes and sweet biscuits (63.8%), chocolate and confectionery (44.9%), savory snacks (39.6%), and soft drinks (25.4%). Only 8.5% of all the advertised products (n  =  284) were permitted to be advertised, according to the WHO nutrient profile model (2015). Dairy products, meat products, grains, fruits and vegetables, soup, and some traditional Turkish foods (e.g., cig kofte and Turkish pizza) were permitted. The permitted products were preferred by only 13.6% of the adolescents.

Conclusions: Unhealthy foods are advertised on television for adolescents, and food advertisement management may be an essential strategy to provide healthy food choices.


Advertisements; Adolescent; Food; Television; World Health Organization

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