Food Marketing to Children: vigilance and new strategies required

Food Marketing to Children: vigilance and new strategies required

While in Melbourne at ICO2022, Emma Boyland recorded a podcast episode for popular Sigma Nutrition Radio

Research has shown that food marketing strongly impacts children’s eating behaviour. Marketing influences food purchase requests, purchases, and preferences.

And the evidence of a relationship between food marketing exposure and obesity meets epidemiological criteria for causality. The evidence suggests that the impact of food marketing is a function of both exposure to the marketing message and its persuasive power.

What does current evidence tell us about the precise effects of marketing on food choices? And beyond that, what strategies are likely to yield the best results in terms of mitigating harms of food marketing on eating behaviour, particularly in children and adolescents?

To help answer these questions, subject area expert Prof. Emma Boyland was invited to join the Sigma Nutrition podcast to discuss what we now know:

  • Food marketing is highly prevalent across multiple media, platforms, and settings and predominantly promotes unhealthy foods
  • There is robust evidence that exposure to food marketing influences children’s attitudes, choices, preferences and intake
  • Government (mandatory) policies are the most effective form of restriction, challenges remain in tackling digital media and some aspects (e.g., e-sports, online gaming) are falling under the radar.

Boyland says “… if children don’t even know they’re being advertised to, then it’s particularly exploitative, because they’re not even aware that that marketing is happening. And in digital media, that’s much more likely because it’s not distinct. There’s not a jingle (that sets it apart) there’s not a way to distinguish it from entertainment content. And so there are real implications”.

Listen to the podcast and learn more: