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Northern Ireland children as young as three see 700 ads for junk food each year

By Victoria O'Hara

Children as young as three here recognise twice as many junk foods advertised on TV as healthy products, research has shown.

A new study reveals that pre-school children are subjected to around 700 TV ads for unhealthy foods every year, despite regulations to limit advertising.

Safefood says the research highlights that television remains a powerful influence on children and their diet, and shows the need for further restrictions on marketing and advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

The study involved more than 170 children north and south who were shown logos for nine food and drink brands, both healthy and unhealthy.

They were asked to name the product, explain what it was, and match the logo to a picture of the food or drink. Thousands of television ads were viewed by researchers and categorised into 'healthy' and 'unhealthy'. It showed children aged 3-5 recognise twice as many advertised unhealthy brands such as crisps and chocolate, as advertised healthier brands such as yoghurts and smoothies.

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