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Issue addressed: Previous research has highlighted children's frequent exposure to advertisements of unhealthy food and beverages on television. However, the food industry is increasingly utilising non-broadcast channels such as outdoor advertising (eg billboards, bus shelters, shop fronts) for product marketing. Few studies have investigated children's exposure to outdoor food advertising around primary and secondary schools. This study aimed to quantify the presence and content of outdoor food advertisements within a 500 m radius of primary and secondary schools in Perth, Western Australia. Methods: A cross-sectional design was used to capture outdoor advertisements within a 500 m radial buffer around the school boundary. The INFORMAS protocol for monitoring outdoor advertising around child-serving institutions was used. Sixty-four primary and secondary schools in Perth, Australia, were selected using random sampling within socio-economic and population density strata. Results: In total, 5636 outdoor advertisements were identified within a 500 m radius of all 64 schools combined and 30% were for food. Of the 1708 food advertisements, 74% were for unhealthy (non-core) food. The most frequently advertised food products were alcohol, fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages. Only 8% of food advertisements featured a healthy product. The majority of schools (75%) had at least one food advertisement within 500 m (mean 36, range 3-190). Schools in lower socio-economic areas had more food advertisements and a significantly higher proportion of unhealthy food advertisements within 250 m. Conclusion: Outdoor advertising around schools constitutes a potential frequent source of children's exposure to unhealthy food and alcohol advertising. So what?: Policy interventions restricting the content of outdoor food advertising near schools are needed.
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