Most foods advertised for children on social media are not healthy, warns DGS

The study followed children between the ages of 3 and 16

In Portugal, 81% of foods promoted to children through digital advertising are not healthy, warned the Directorate-General for Health (DGS) this Thursday, 1 June. 

According to a study promoted by this health entity, through the National Program for the Promotion of Healthy Eating, developed with the support of the European Region of the World Health Organization (WHO), female children aged 13 and 16 years old, and from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, are the most exposed

Developed simultaneously in Portugal, Norway and the United Kingdom, this study, released on World Children's Day, reveals that soft drinks are at the top of the categories that are most promoted to children (29,9%), followed by pre-packaged meals. prepared or ready to eat (19,3%). Followed by chocolates (8,6%), cakes (6,5%) and juices and nectars (5,6%).

With regard to the type of platform, the social network Instagram occupies a prominent position in the advertising channel, representing more than half of the ads (56%). YouTube and TikTok follow, with 17,5% and 14,5%. Respectively, and, with less representation, Twitter, with 6,4%, and Facebook, with 5,6%. Results, which, according to the DGS, «will reflect the social networks and platforms that are most often used by children».

Regarding the analyzed content, there are also «some possible strategies for adapting to Portuguese legislation that restricts food advertising aimed at children, focusing on ads that only make reference to the brand, without identifying a specific food product, and in age verification systems to access content», reads the note sent by the health entity.

The DGS study followed children between 3 and 16 years old.