Fat Free TV Guide names best and worst TV programs for junk food advertising to kids

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Saturday AFL, Saturday night family movies and X-Factor have topped a list of more than 100 popular television programs for having the highest amount of junk food ads during the ad breaks.  

Cancer Council NSW has named the programs in Fat Free TV Guide, a website which rates and ranks the best and worst programs based on how much junk food is advertised.

The guide reveals that children watching the three unhealthiest programs would be exposed to 26 junk food ads for foods like chocolate, high energy drinks, and fast food chains over a six hour viewing period.  

Meanwhile, the guide also reveals that if a child was to eat a serve of all of the foods advertised during a single episode of Saturday AFL, they would consume seven times more fat, and four times more sugar than the recommended daily intake, proving that junk food advertising is sending the wrong messages about healthy eating.    

Research suggests that advertising leads children to pester their parents for junk food an average of 15 times per visit to the supermarket*. They are successful in half of these attempts.

Clare Hughes, Nutrition Manager at Cancer Council NSW, said that overweight and obesity is one of the biggest health problems facing Australia and the situation is being worsened by the high amount of junk food ads aimed at children on television.

“The Fat Free TV Guide clearly shows that junk food companies are choosing to advertise their unhealthy products during programs that are popular with children and families,” she said.

“It’s important that we act to reduce children’s exposure to junk food marketing. One in four children are overweight or obese and we know most of those children will grow up to become overweight adults with a higher risk of developing some cancers**. Preventing weight gain and promoting healthy eating habits from a young age can reduce the risk of cancer later in life.

“Parents have the biggest role to play in encouraging their children to eat healthily but they have a tough job battling the multi million dollar food and advertising industries.   What we would like to see is advertising regulation that limits children’s exposure to junk food advertising during their favourite TV programs.

“Until we get tougher regulation, Fat Free TV gives parents the power to make healthier choices about what their children watch, allowing them to minimise their exposure to junk food advertising.”

Parents can learn more about junk food advertising and the Fat Free TV Guide at www.fatfreetv.com.au


Media Contacts:

Cancer Council NSW, Gina Murphy 0413 889283 ginam@nswcc.org.au

Cancer Council NSW, Luke Alexander 0413 886578 lukea@nswcc.org.au

 Notes to editors

  • The research was conducted by Cancer Council NSW and looked at 104 TV shows
  • The unhealthiest shows were:  

1- Saturday AFL (Channel 10)

2- Saturday Family Movie (Channel 9)

3- The X Factor (Channel 7)

4- Dancing with the Stars (Channel 7)

5- The Simpsons (Channel 10)

6- Saturday Family movie (Channel 10)

7- Sunrise (Channel 7)  

8- Junior Masterchef (Channel 10)

9- Two and a Half Men (Channel 9)

10- Talkin’ “˜bout your Generation (Channel 10)


  • Cancer Council NSW monitored popular TV shows in Sydney for 14 weeks between July 2010 and July 2011.
  •  Cancer Council NSW included other programs screened in the timeslots most popular for children, for example weekends, during primetime (6-9pm) and on weekday mornings (6-9am). For shows that are screened on a regular basis (e.g. Home and Away, or the news), up to 5 episodes of each show were analysed based on the highest rating episodes.
  • *McDermott L, O’Sullivan T, Stead M, Hastings G. International food advertising, pester power and its effects. International Journal of Advertising 2006; 25(4):513-539.  
  • **Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing obesity related cancers such as bowel, oesophageal, endometrial, kidney, pancreatic and some breast cancers.