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Monday, June 2, 2008

Effects of food and beverage marketing on adult and child obesity

There is a link between marketing of unhealthy fast food and obesity among adults and children. How food marketing is effecting our new generation and how it is related to obesity, this article provides you a vivid picture of some research studies alongwith facts and statistics.

- 22 million children around the world are overweight before they start going to school. The global childhood obesity epidemic is focusing attention on the effects of food and beverage marketing.
A recent report published by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concluded that marketing of energy-dense foods and fast food outlets is a "probable" cause of increasing overweight and obesity among the world's children.

Food marketing to children is widespread. The food and beverage industries spend more than $10 billion per year to market to children in the United States. One of the goals of marketing is branding to encourage children to recognize and differentiate particular products and logos.

By 2 years of age, children may have beliefs about specific brands,4 and 2- to 6-year-olds can recognize familiar brand names, packaging, logos, and characters and associate them with products,5-8 especially if the brands use salient features such as bright colors, pictures, and cartoon characters.
By middle childhood, most children can name multiple brands of child-oriented products.
Even among very young children, awareness and recognition translate into product requests, begging and nagging for specific product names and brands.

UFC, the French consumer organisation, found in their survey, that 77% of children preferred advertised breakfast cereals

The Greek organisation KEPKA conducted research among 12-15 year olds, which showed that they started eating potato crisps after being advertised by a celebrity.

A survey of consumption patterns of children between 4 and 12 in the Netherlands found that TV adverts contribute to an unhealthy diet.

They are less able than adults to fully understand that the purpose of advertising is not to inform but to persuade, and to ultimately sell a product.

Studies show that children are much more likely to want to eat food that comes in branded packaging than food with no branding – even if it is the same product.

A study of 3 to 5 year olds showed that over 75% of children preferred French fries in McDonalds branded wrapping, compared to the just over 10% who preferred fries from plain packaging.
The food was exactly the same!

The same study also showed that children with more TVs in their home were more likely to prefer the McDonalds-branded food packaging.

WHO survey: An extensive survey of the evidence from the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms this.

The WHO report on Marketing of Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children explains that advertising promoting foods high in fat, sugar or salt directly influence children’s attitudes and behaviour – they want and ultimately eat these unhealthy foods.

This can be a direct influence with children buying the foods, sweets and drinks themselves or asking their parents for these foods.

junkfoodgeneration.org is the Consumers International (CI) campaign to stop the marketing of unhealthy food to children. Join at the site and

More facts and statistics:

Adult obesity
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005:
1.6 billion adults were overweight
at least 400 million adults were obese
In 2015 the WHO predicts there will be:

2.3 billion adults overweight
more than 700 million obese.
According to the World Watch Institute - there are now more obese adults than underweight adults in the world.

Childhood obesity
According to the International Obesity Taskforce (IOTF):

22 million children under five years old are overweight
1 in 10 children are overweight – a total of 155 million
around 30 to 40 million of those children are actually obese

ADVERTISING TRICKS

In 2006 the biggest companies spending on advertising came to:

$7.8 billion on food
$4 billion on soft drinks
$1.1 billion on confectionary
For every $1 the WHO spends on trying to improve the nutrition of the world’s population, $500 is spent by the food industry in promoting processed food.

* More reports:

- Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children's Taste Preferences

- The WHO report on Marketing of Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages to Children explains that advertising promoting foods high in fat, sugar or salt directly influence children’s attitudes and behaviour – they want and ultimately eat these unhealthy foods.
- Download pdf report

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