While adverts in between children's TV have been blamed for encouraging kids to drink fizzy drinks the focus has now been turned on the shows themselves after a new report found that popular children’s TV programmes are featuring too many soft and fizzy drinks, with characters choosing an unhealthy option two out of three times.
Soft and fizzy drinks are shown on children’s TV for almost two thirds (64 per cent) of screen time showing drinks. In comparison water appears for just a fifth (20 per cent) of the time.
The research, commissioned by the Natural Hydration Council, took place over two separate weeks and analysed almost 3000 minutes of national TV, including almost 450 minutes of children’s TV programmes on CBBC and CITV.
It comes after warnings from the NHS that junk food featured on TV is adding to the growing obesity epidemic.
Media psychologist, Emma Kenny who co-wrote The TV Water Shortage research said there is "no doubt" that people are influenced the characters portrayed in popular television programmes.
"This is especially true of the younger generation, who will often look up to their favourite fictional characters and view them as role models, mimicking their behaviour.
“The UK is in the midst of a growing obesity epidemic, and the government is well aware of the current strain this is placing on both the nation’s health and the NHS. We are now, as a nation, surely forced to consider whether programme-makers should, by way of good practice and in recognition of a duty of care towards the consumer, adopt an ethical approach to drink placements in their broadcasts with the aim of encouraging viewers to make healthier hydration choices.”
The report follows a call from health secretary Jeremy Hunt who said during the Conservative Party conference in October that said he would love CBeebies to tell children that eating chips is bad.
"I've got a sugar crazy three-year-old daughter and I would love it if CBeebies was saying 'chips are bad, chips are bad' but I think that CBeebies might lose quite a few of its viewers.
"So I think it's a difficult question for a public service broadcaster but I think there is a lot you can do by increasing people's knowledge of these issues and certainly I would hope the BBC would play its part in that."
Jamie Oliver is lobbying for the government to introduce a "strong and robust multi-sectorial Childhood Obesity Strategy" following the release of his documentary into the effects of sugar earlier this year.