HomeSafetyFood marketing promotes unhealthy diets for children and teens. WHO report

Food marketing promotes unhealthy diets for children and teens. WHO report

Il marketing food continues to promote high sugar and salt foods, foods fast food e snack, sugary drinks and confectionery. So 'persuasive and pervasive', promotes foods that contribute to unhealthy diets, influence the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of children and adolescents. It mainly focuses on places where children congregate, be it schools, dedicated programs and the most popular internet sites. For all this it is necessary to limit it. This is the conclusion reached by a new WHO report on exposure to the power of marketing food. (1)

The power of the marketing feed

The document highlights that the techniques of marketing persuasively evolve and use all the opportunities that digital platforms offer. Sponsorships by celebrities including sports, promotional characters, gift incentives are all techniques designed to please interact with the contents of marketing digital and are particularly engaging for young audiences, reports the dossier.

The power of marketing food influences not only beliefs and attitudes towards food, not only eating behaviors but also has (concrete) consequences on the health of children and adolescents, for example on body mass index and dental caries.

The new report on the scope, nature and effects of the WHO marketing food is a review that includes 143 content analysis studies (studies that consider where the marketing food, how much there is, for which brands / products and which creative contents and techniques of marketing are used) and 36 consumer research studies, which explore the beliefs, attitudes of individuals, perceptions and behavioral responses to marketing food, published between 2009 and 2020. The revision takes into account the marketing contemporary that is confronted with the growth in the use of the Internet, therefore of the TGM Food Marketing conveyed by digital media and by social media.

Marketing food and children

The report «confirms that the marketing of foods that contribute to unhealthy diets remains pervasive and persuasive and provides evidence that reinforces the reasons for an action that limits the food marketing to which children are exposed».

Time ago the role of the marketing feed on food preferences and consumption patterns, but despite calls to protect minors, children continue to be exposed to the power and involvement of food marketing. Because this affects the places where children gather, the television programs and the viewing hours of the little ones. In short: he goes to look for them. And present them with a plate of foods they should avoid.

«Food marketing promotes above all foods that contribute to unhealthy diets (such as "fast food", sugary drinks, chocolate and confectionery) and uses a wide range of creative strategies that can appeal to a young audience (such as celebrity / sports sponsorships, promotional characters and games)».

The results of consumer studies, the review again highlights, include positive associations between frequency or level of exposure to marketing food and habitual consumption of marketed foods or less healthy foods. That is to say: the more one is exposed to TGM Food Marketing and promotional pressure, the more we tend to consume those advertised and less healthy foods that are offered.

Promotion of unhealthy diets

About the food and the marketing food proposes to children and adolescents the report specifies that "The most commercialized food categories included fast food, sugary drinks, chocolate and confectionery, salty / savory snacks, sweet baked goods and snacks, breakfast cereals, dairy and desserts.

Good evidence suggest that food marketing that promoted less healthy foods was prevalent in children's gathering environments (e.g. schools, sports clubs) and, on television, more frequent during typical children's viewing hours, during school holidays, on channels for children or into children's programs versus other programming periods, channels or genres. Some evidence indicated social inequality in exposure to food marketing».

Creative strategies to reach the little ones

The power of the marketing feed it is pervasive and uses a wide range of creative strategies to appeal to young audiences. Here is a long list that includes celebrity and sports sponsorships, promotional characters, gifts and incentives, contests, games, new design, animation and special effects, persuasive appeals, health and nutrition claims, health claims and various other engagement techniques. A "firepower", one might say, with an additional detail: the particular vehemence with which this effort is destined to reach above all the target of the little ones.

«Some studies suggest that the use of such strategies were more frequent or widespread in food marketing to children than in marketing to adults».

The strategies di marketing that target children have been used more frequently to promote food that contributes to an unhealthy diet, than to promote healthier products, and during school holidays than on other days. In terms of the impact on eating behavior and health, "Studies have reported significant positive associations between the frequency of food advertising for particular products or the level of exposure to food marketing and habitual consumption of advertised or unhealthy foods". Translation: Firepower works.

Involvement too active of young people, what you have on social putting like, sharing, watching branded videos, commenting on posts, is associated with a greater impact on the consumption of that food. Studies that have dealt with attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and dietary norms, highlights the WHO, have found that most children were familiar with food brands and could recognize the food products advertised when they were in the supermarket. Target reached up.

Sabrina Bergamini

Notes

(1) WHO. Exposure and Power of Food Marketing and Its Associations with Food-Related Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors: A Narrative Review https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240041783

See also the previous article Dario Dongo, Sabrina Bergamini. Climate, predatory marketing and children's health. Unicef ​​report. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 21.2.20 https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/consum-attori/clima-marketing-predatorio-e-salute-dei-bambini-rapporto-unicef

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Journalist. Consumption, rights, nutrition, social, environment. Head of Consumers Help. You have collaborated with ResetDOC, Il Riformista, La Nuova Ecologia, IMGPress.

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