DAVIS, Calif., June 5 (UPI) — Children, already exposed to a saturation of unhealthy TV ads, are targeted for high-fat, high-sugar foods through so-called advergames, U.S. researchers say.
Senior author Diana Cassady, an associate professor of public health sciences at the University of California, Davis, says advergames are a blend of interactive animation, video content and advertising — primarily promote corporate branding and products.
Cassady and lead author Jennifer Culp, training coordinator with the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program at University of California, Davis, did a detailed content analysis of all restaurant, beverage and food Web sites advertised on the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon from August 2006 to March 2007.
The two television networks were chosen because of their high level of Web site promotion. The researchers analyzed 19 Web sites, 290 Web pages and 247 advergames.
“I was astounded by how often logos or actual food products were integrated into the games,” Culp says in a statement. “For example, some games used candy or cereal as game pieces. In others, a special code that was only available by purchasing a particular cereal was necessary to advance to higher game levels.”
The study is published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
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