UNIVERSITY researchers have warned mums and dads not to be lured by fast food advertising this holiday season.
A research study carried out at Griffith University's Department of Marketing shows a notable jump in the length of television advertising blocks during holiday season, and while the length of fast food ads shortens during this period, don't be fooled: there are more of them.
"This research is a reminder that we need to monitor carefully how much television our children are watching, and also keep in mind its powerful influence," Associate Professor Rundle-Thiele, from Griffith Business School, said.
"Advertising strategies are carefully thought out and this research shows how families might be strategically targeted during a busy time of the year when they are likely to be less vigilant where fast food is concerned and more inclined to give in to demands from children for treats.
"The study shows that while food advertisements are longer in school terms, repetition is used during school holidays.
"More short advertisements appear more often during school holidays."
Honours student Abdul Alhallafi recorded advertising on one popular free-to-air commercial TV channel between 4pm and 9pm during a school term week and during a school holiday week during 2011.
He found that block length of adverts were 3.4 minutes on average during the holiday period, compared with 2.8 minutes during school term.
There were more short food adverts (61%) than longer food adverts (39%) during the holiday period.
One fast food outlet, McDonald's, dominated the food advertising market and increased its number of adverts by 31% during the holiday period.
Analysis of the TV ads showed that McDonald's used price as a method of emphasising good price deals such as family packages to coincide with the Christmas holiday period, a peak family holiday time.
The use of sex appeal as a method of persuasion was also examined, prompting a proposal from researchers for a disclaimer to be incorporated into ads to avoid people making a link between fast food products and healthy body image.
"This study is a snapshot captured from one region during a limited timeframe," Assoc Prof Rundle-Thiele said.
"More research is needed to get a better picture of how food marketers are targeting people."
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