Junk food ads in kids’ mags escape scrutiny

Print advertising has often been ignored while the focus has been on other forms of media, particularly television, but University of Wollongong researchers argue that needs to change.

They say children’s magazines “blur the lines” between advertising and editorial – so much so that even experienced marketing academics are unable to determine whether selected pages are advertisements or product placements.

Their study analysed 139 magazine editions that were published in Australia in 2009 and targeted children up to age 12.

They identified 269 references to branded food items – about 16% of the total references to food products.

Of those, 86% were for “non-core” or “less healthy” foods.

Less than a third of those promotions were clearly identified as advertisements. More than 38% of the references to these branded foods were product placements such as ‘what