- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The research was the joint project of Diana Cassady, associate professor of public health sciences at UC Davis, and Jennifer Culp, Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program training coordinator. The duo analyzed the restaurant, beverage and food websites advertised on the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings between August 2006 and March 2007.
Close to one-third of the advertising that included websites was for food. Eighty-four percent of the food websites advertised included advergames.
"I was astounded by how often logos or actual food products were integrated into the games," Culp was quoted in a UC Davis Health System press release. "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."
In response to the research report, Stroller Derby blogger Carolyn Castiglia wrote about an online game featuring Pop-Tarts.
"It’s a memory game, filled with sparkly, sprinkle-covered Pop-Tarts, topped with a huge ad that says in large, neon print, 'LESS SUGAR. SA-WEET!' Castiglia wrote.
The researchers believe government should step in and set advertising requirements for food companies that target children.
"We can't risk having another generation of youngsters at high risk for the long-term chronic diseases linked to unhealthy eating," Cassady was quoted.