Exposure to Tobacco, Alcohol, and ‘Junk Food’ Content in Reality TV Programmes Broadcast in the UK Between August 2019–2020
Exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and foods high in fat, sugar, or salt (HFSS) content in media is a risk factor for smoking, alcohol use, and HFSS consumption in young people. This study reports an analysis of tobacco, alcohol, and HFSS content in a sample of reality TV programs broadcast on TV and video-on-demand services throughout a 1-year period.
The researchers used 1-min interval coding to quantify content in all episodes of 20 different reality TV programs between August 2019 and August 2020 and estimated population exposure to a sample of these programs using viewing data and UK population estimates.
The researchers coded 13,244 intervals from 264 episodes. Tobacco content appeared in 227 intervals (2%) across 43 episodes (2%), alcohol in 5167 intervals (39%) across 258 episodes (98%) and HFSS in 1752 intervals (13%) across 234 episodes (88%). A sample of 15 series delivered ~157.4 million tobacco, 3.5 billion alcohol, and 1.9 billion HFSS gross impressions to the UK population, including 24,000, 12.6 million, and 21.4 million, to children, respectively.
Tobacco, alcohol, and HFSS content are common in reality TV programs. These programs deliver exposure to tobacco, alcohol, and HFSS imagery, which are potential drivers of tobacco use, alcohol use and HFSS consumption in young people.