Everything You Need to Know in Less Than 50 Words
Recent studies show that children respond positively to well-marketed foods and beverages. While this may be great for healthy foods, companies may want to restrict promotions on unhealthy snacks or market them as treats instead of daily sustenance.
Tell Me More
Research confirms what parents already know: Children exposed to food and beverage marketing will consume more of those products. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that kids who saw advertising campaigns for certain foods and beverages were 30% more likely to express a preference for those specific brands.
The study found that marketing unhealthy foods or sugary beverages can be detrimental to pediatric health. However, the study also reveals that campaigns for healthy foods have the same effect.
Research confirms what parents already know: Children exposed to food and beverage marketing will consume more of those products.
About the Study
The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative launched in the U.S. in 2006 and created standards for food and beverage marketing aimed at children. As part of the initiative, companies voluntarily promise to limit the marketing of unhealthy food and beverage choices to children.
The same year, the United Kingdom banned advertising for certain foods during popular viewing times for children (such as after or before school). The United Kingdom and its parents labeled the targeted foods as junk based on their nutrient profiles.
Despite these efforts, a report from the University of Connecticut showed that more than a third of food products advertised to children still are not healthy. These results raise conflict between businesses and governmental regulations – should the government restrict more ingredients from foods, or should companies be more responsible with their marketing?
Furthermore, research published in the journal Nutrients says exposure to food and beverage marketing is a risk factor for childhood obesity and conditions such as Type 2 diabetes.
Celebrating Healthy Changes
Still, there has been some progress in limiting exposure to advertising campaigns for unhealthy foods. Achievements noted by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health at the University of Connecticut include:
- From 2017 to 2020, 185 products ceased marketing efforts.
- During the same period, 126 healthy food and beverage choices appeared in advertising campaigns.
- Companies are working to make their existing products healthier by changing formulations to have less sugar and whole grains.
- Food manufacturers are developing healthful new products. These range from nonfat yogurts to flavored water for sugar-free hydration.
- Many food and beverage marketing campaigns aimed at children and teens encourage an active lifestyle.
The Bottom Line
Food companies must find the middle ground in the marketing of responsible advertising, ensuring that products advertised with children in mind are healthy and promote an active lifestyle. In addition, the products themselves should change, possibly by including whole grains and less salt, fat, and sugar.
Marketing healthier products to children mean that the foods and beverages they ask for are ones their parents will feel good about them having. In addition, wholesome foods and beverage choices mean that food companies can market their products to young people without worrying their products will cause harmful outcomes.
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