40% of children exposed to fast food advertising eat fast food more than two days a week

Jul 7, 2023 | Current affairs, Featured, Revista Lloseta, Thursday Daily Bulletin, Tradition

The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, warned on Wednesday that 40% of minors who are exposed to fast food advertising take it more than two days a week, according to the report Advertising, food and children’s rights in Spain, prepared by the Gasol Foundation in collaboration with the ministry.

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Fast food

The study analyzes the influence of unhealthy food and drink advertising on the consumption habits of children and adolescents. It also investigates the relationship between the eating patterns of children and adolescents, the use of screens by minors and the socioeconomic level of families.

One of the most important conclusions is that being exposed to the advertising of three or more unhealthy products means a more frequent consumption of soft drinks, industrial pastries and cakes, salty snacks, sweets and energy drinks.

Specifically, the study shows that the percentage of children who are not exposed to fast food advertising and who consume it more than two days a week is 26.3%. On the other hand, among those who are exposed to such advertising, the figure reaches 39.6%, an increase of 50.57%.

In the case of salty snacks, the percentage of the population of children and adolescents who consume them more than two days a week is 40.85% higher among those who have been exposed to their advertising compared to those who have not. In energy drinks, the difference in the population that consumes them is practically double in cases where they have been exposed to advertising (38.2% versus 19.2% who have not been exposed to it).

“The data and scientific evidence show that we are facing a severe public health problem. The factors are multiple and complex, but the reality is that the bombardment of junk food and ultra-processed food advertising that our children receive in Spain is out of control,” said the Minister of Consumer Affairs.

In view of this, Garzón reiterated “the need to protect the most vulnerable population” and “improve the health of society in the next generation with measures that contribute to regulate and ensure that minors are not direct recipients of conventional and digital marketing of foods high in fat, salt or sugar from unhealthy products”. Mainly, as argued by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, because it is “paradoxical” that Spain is the “star country of the Mediterranean diet” and, at the same time, the one that records “the lowest consumption of fresh vegetables daily and weekly in children between 6 and 9 years of the entire European continent and the fifth with the lowest consumption of fruit”.

More data from the report

According to the report Publicidad, alimentación y derechos de la infancia en España, 80% of minors between 8 and 16 years old are exposed to advertising of unhealthy food and beverages during the last month, which is related to a more frequent consumption of this type of products.

The data analyzed by the Gasol Foundation, which come from the UNICEF Spain 2020-2021 Childhood and Adolescence Opinion Barometer and the PASOS 2022-2023 study, also point out that the population exposed to advertising of unhealthy products is the one that spends the most time using screens and the one that resides in lower-income environments.

For example, the average daily calories ingested from fast food or industrial pastries by those who claim to have seen advertising for these product groups is 60.4 Kcal more per day, and 47.9 Kcal, respectively.

In addition, the percentage of the population that participated in the study through an educational center located in an area of lower average income and that declared being exposed to advertising of three or more unhealthy food and beverage products was 10.88% higher than the population that grew up in a more favorable environment.