|dc.description.abstract||Advertising to children has received regular focus since 1961, yet it remains a
controversial topic. When people speak about advertising to children, they are
frequently discussing food advertising. Recent concerns about food, nutrition and an
increase in childhood obesity have resulted in a resurgence of interest towards
advertising to children. Many factors contribute to the rise in childhood obesity; and
advertising of unhealthy food to children has been recognised as one such factor.
Advertising to children is fraught with ethical concerns. Children are considered to be
vulnerable and susceptible to the influence of television advertising, since they do not
possess the cognitive ability to comprehend or evaluate the advertisements they
enjoy watching. Although there is ample research regarding the advertising of food to
children, research on how parents perceive the impact of television food advertising
on their children?s food preferences, as well as the overall level of parental concern
with regard to this issue is limited.
This study, aimed at exploring South African parents' perceptions of television food
advertising to children, is in context of the widespread concern about TV food
advertising, the increasing incident of obesity among children and a number of
initiatives in other countries to limit children?s exposure to food advertising.
A literature review was undertaken, which gave rise to the identification of the
problem statement and objectives. Following the literature review, an empirical study
was conducted with the aid of a questionnaire, as measuring instrument, to identify
parents' perceptions of TV food advertising to children, in particular, parents with
children aged between 3 and 14 years. The empirical study was conducted at a
crèche in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa.
The empirical research conducted for this study revealed that parents perceive it to
be unacceptable for food to be advertised to children during their TV-viewing hours,
in particular unhealthy food, and that advertising does influence their children's food preferences and eating habits. Parents believe that although regulations exist, these
are ineffective in protecting children against advertisers. Furthermore, although
parents are not in favour of banning all food advertising to children, they would like to
see a reduction of food advertising to children and stronger restrictions being applied
to TV food advertising during children?s viewing hours.
As an outcome of the parents being exposed to the survey questionnaire, their
awareness to the topic will be a lot greater than before. It would be interesting to see
if those parents' perceptions have changed as a result of the heightened awareness
and therefore it is recommended that the survey be repeated on the same parents
within the next year.
Furthermore, since the results obtained from this study is a representation of the
perceptions of the parents from the geographical area of Vanderbijlpark, South
Africa; it is recommended that this survey be conducted in other geographical areas
around South Africa.||en_US