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Through a congressional directive, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) requested that the Institute
of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies conduct a
study to review the influence of food marketing on the diets
and health of children and youth in the United States. Food
Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?
explores what is known about current food and beverage
marketing practices, the influence of these practices on the
diets and health of children and youth, and public and private
strategies that can be used to promote healthful food and
beverage choices in children and youth. The report was
prepared by an Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee,
chaired by Dr. J. Michael McGinnis, that convened 16 members
with expertise in nutrition, child and adolescent development,
psychology, media and advertising, consumer marketing
and behavior, social marketing, evaluation, education,
public health and policy, industry (e.g., food, beverage, and
entertainment), constitutional law, and business ethics.
Dietary Patterns of Children and Youth
The diets of America’s children and adolescents depart
substantially from recommendations and reflect a pattern
that puts their health at risk. Overall, children and youth are
not achieving basic nutritional goals. They are consuming
excessive calories and exceed recommended intakes of total
fat, saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium. The report
reveals that the dietary and health-related patterns of children
and youth are influenced by the interplay of many factors,
including genetics and biology, culture and values, economic
status, physical and social environments, and commercial
and media environments. Among these environments, the
media, in its multiple forms and broad reach, plays a central
socializing role for young people and is an important channel
for promoting branded food and beverage products in
the marketplace.
Drawn from Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?, 2006 • Institute of Medicine •
• Along with many other intersecting factors,
food and beverage marketing influences the
diets and health prospects of children and
• Food and beverage marketing practices
geared to children and youth are out of
balance with recommended healthful diets
and contribute to an environment that puts
their health at risk.
• Food and beverage companies, restaurants,
and marketers have underutilized the
potential to devote creativity and resources
in promoting food, beverages, and meals that
support healthful diets for children and youth.
• Achieving healthful diets for children and
youth will require continued, multisectoral,
and integrated efforts that include industry
leadership and initiative.
• Public policy programs and incentives do not
currently have the support or authority to
address many of the current and emerging
marketing practices that influence the diets of
children and youth.
Food, Beverage, and Restaurant Industries
The food, beverage, and restaurant industries should use their
creativity, resources, and full range of marketing practices to
promote and support more healthful diets for children and
youth. To achieve this, the industries should:
• Shift their product portfolios in a direction that promotes new
and reformulated child- and youth-oriented foods and bever-
ages that are substantially lower in total calories, lower in fats,
salt, and added sugars, and higher in nutrient content.
• Shift their advertising and marketing emphasis to child- and
youth-oriented foods and beverages that are substantially
lower in total calories, lower in fats, salt, and added sugars,
and higher in nutrient content.
• Restaurants should expand and actively promote healthier
food, beverage, and meal options for children and youth
and provide calorie content and key nutrition information
on menus and packaging that is prominently visible at the
point of choice and use.
• Engage the full range of their marketing vehicles and venues
to develop and promote healthier, appealing, and affordable
foods and beverages for children and youth.
Advertising, Marketing, Entertainment Industry, and Media
The food, beverage, restaurant, entertainment, and marketing
industries should work with government, scientific, public
health, and consumer groups to establish and enforce the high-
est standards for the marketing of foods, beverages,
and meals to children and youth. To achieve this, it should:
• Work through the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU)
to revise, expand, enforce, and evaluate explicit industry self-
regulatory guidelines beyond traditional advertising to include
evolving vehicles and venues for marketing communications.
• Assure that licensed characters are used only to promote
foods and beverages that support healthful diets for children
and youth.
The media and entertainment industry should direct its
extensive power to promote healthful foods and beverages
for children and youth. To achieve this, it should:
• Incorporate into the multiple media platforms (e.g., print,
broadcast, cable, the Internet, and wireless-based
programming) foods, beverages, and storylines that
promote healthful diets.
• Strengthen their capacity to serve as accurate interpreters
and reporters to the public on findings, claims, and practices
related to the diets of children and youth.
Drawn from Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?, 2006 • Institute of Medicine •
A Multi-Faceted Approach to Improve the
Diet-Related Health of Children and Youth
This report presents recommendations for
different segments of society to guide the
development of effective marketing strategies
that promote healthier food, beverage, and meal
options to children and youth. Recommendations
are also offered for research necessary to
chart the path of future improvements, and the
capacity to monitor and track improvements in
marketing practices that have an influence on
children’s and youth’s diets and diet-related
health. These recommendations reflect the
current context and information in a rapidly
changing environment, and should be
implemented together as a package to
support and complement one another.
Parents, Caregivers, and Families
To support parents, caregivers, and families in promoting
healthful diets for children and youth, the government,
in partnership with the private sector, should create a
long-term, multi-faceted, and financially sustained social
marketing program that should:
• Include a full range of evolving and integrated marketing
tools with widespread educational and community-based
• Target parents of children from birth to the age of four years
to build skills for selecting healthful and affordable food and
beverage choices for their children.
• Offer a reliable support stream that should be in place for
social marketing programs through public-appropriated funds
and counterpart cooperative support from the businesses
that market foods, beverages, and meals to children and
• Government, in partnership with the private sector,
should create a long-term, multi-faceted social marketing
program targeting parents, caregivers, and families to
promote healthful diets for children and youth (see above
• Government at all levels should marshal the full range
of public policy approaches (e.g., subsidies, taxes,
legislation, regulation, federal nutrition programs) to
foster the development and promotion of healthful diets
for children and youth.
• If voluntary efforts related to advertising during children’s
television programming are unsuccessful in shifting the
emphasis away from high-calorie and low-nutrient foods
and beverages to the advertising of healthful foods and
beverages, Congress should enact legislation mandating
the shift on both broadcast and cable television.
• The nation’s formidable research capacity should be better
directed to sustained, multidisciplinary work on how
marketing influences the food and beverage choices of
children and youth.
• The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services should designate a responsible agency, with
adequate and appropriate resources, to formally monitor
and report regularly on the progress of the various entities
and activities related to the recommendations included in
this report.
State and local educational authorities, with support from
parents, health authorities, and other stakeholders, should
educate about and promote healthful diets for children and
youth in all aspects of the school environment (e.g.,
commercial sponsorships, meals and snacks, curriculum).
To achieve this, it should:
• Develop and implement nutrition standards for all
competitive foods and beverages sold or served in the
school environment.
• Adopt policies and best practices that promote the
availability and marketing of foods and beverages that
support healthful diets.
• Provide visible leadership in this effort by public and civic
leaders at all levels such as the National Governors
Association, the State and Local Boards of Education and
the Parents Teachers Organization, as well as trade
associations representing private-sector businesses such
as distributors, bottlers, and vending machine companies
that directly interface with the school administration.
Drawn from Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?, 2006 • Institute of Medicine •
State of Food and Beverage Marketing to Children
and Youth: Influence on Diets and Health
The commercial advertising and marketing of food and
beverages are intersecting factors that influence the diets
and diet-related health of children and youth. The review indicates
that, among many factors, food and beverage marketing
influences the preferences and purchase requests of children,
influences short-term consumption, may contribute to less
healthful diets, and contributes to an environment that puts
their health at risk.
• Advertising and marketing messages reach young
consumers through a variety of vehicles such as television,
radio, magazines, music, and the Internet, and through
many different venues including homes, schools, child-care
settings, grocery stores, shopping malls, theaters, sporting
events, and airports.
• Food advertising to children affects their preferences,
purchase behaviors, and consumption habits for different
food and beverage categories, as well as for different
product brands.
• Food and beverage advertising on television influences
children ages to 211 years to prefer and purchase
high-calorie and low-nutrient foods and beverages.
• Of the more than $200 billion children and youth collectively
spend annually, the top four leading items children ages
812 years select, without parental permission, are
high-calorie and low-nutrient foods and beverages.
• Food and beverages, particularly candy, carbonated soft
drinks, and salty snacks or chips, were ranked among the
top leading items that teens ages 1317 years old purchase
with their own money.
• The purchase influence of children and youth increases
with age and is currently estimated at $500 billion for
214 year-olds.
Committee on Food Marketing and the Diets of Children and Youth
J. MICHAEL MCGINNIS (Chair), Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC; DANIEL R. ANDERSON, Department of Psychology, University
of Massachusetts, Amherst; J. HOWARD BEALES III, School of Business, George Washington University, Washington, DC; DAVID V. B.
BRITT, Sesame Workshop (emeritus), Amelia Island, FL; SANDRA L. CALVERT, Children’s Digital Media Center, Georgetown University,
Washington, DC; KEITH T. DARCY, Ethics Officer Association, Waltham, MA; AIMÉE DORR, Graduate School of Education and
Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles; LLOYD J. KOLBE, Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University,
Bloomington; DALE L. KUNKEL, Department of Communication, University of Arizona, Tucson; PAUL KURNIT, KidShop, Kurnit
Communications, and Lubin School of Business at Pace University, Chappaqua, New York; ROBERT C. POST, Yale Law School, New
Haven, CT; RICHARD SCHEINES, Department of Philosophy, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA; FRANCES H. SELIGSON,
Nutrition Consultant, Hershey, PA; MARY STORY, Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota,
Minneapolis; ELLEN A. WARTELLA, Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, University of California, Riverside; JEROME D.
WILLIAMS, Department of Advertising, University of Texas, Austin
Liaison from the Food and Nutrition Board
NANCY F. KREBS, Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver
Research Associates: LESLIE J. SIM and SHANNON L. WISHAM
Download fact sheets and the executive summary at:
Copies of Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity? are available at
... However, the current empirical evidence tells a relatively clear story regarding the dominance of nutritionally poor foods in the digital food environment of children and their food preferences [5][6][7]. As pointed out by the Ending Childhood Obesity report in 2016 [61], marketing of unhealthy foods and sugar-sweetened beverages has a clear link to childhood obesity, according to the unequivocal evidence [62,63]. The exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods continues to be a significant problem, which calls for reform to protect all children equally, despite the growing number of industry-led voluntary measures. ...
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The promotion of nutritionally poor food and beverages (F&B) has a proven effect on children’s eating preferences and, therefore, plays a significant role in today’s childhood obesity epidemic. This study’s objective was to assess the prevalence (exposure) and context (power) of the F&B cues in influencer content across three platforms: TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. The selected influencers were popular with adolescents, with a combined total of more than 34 million followers/subscribers. We employed the YouTube Influencer Marketing Protocol from the World Health Organization (WHO) as our basis for coding. We analysed a total of 360 videos/posts and, of these, 24% contained F&B cues, which is equivalent to 18.1 F&B cues/hour. In total, 77% of the cues were not permitted for children’s advertising, according to WHO criteria, and this was stable across all platforms, with chocolate and sugary confectionery (23%) as the most frequently featured products. Not-permitted F&B had a four-times higher chance of being branded, a five-times higher chance of being described positively, and received significantly more ‘likes’. In 62% of the analysed presentations, the branded product was mentioned, yet only 6% of the content was labelled as advertising. The present analysis delivers further grounds for discussion for policies and regulations of influencer marketing.
Background Fast-food advertising (FFA) is a potential contributor to obesity. Few studies have examined the relationship between FFA exposure and body mass index (BMI) among young adults. Furthermore, these studies have rarely examined ethnic differences in the relationship between FFA exposure and BMI, specifically across Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) subgroups. Objective This study aimed to investigate ethnic differences in the association between FFA exposure and BMI in a sample of predominantly AAPI young adults. Methods Cross-sectional data were collected in 2018 from 2622 young adult college students (ages 18–25 years; 54% women) on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. FFA exposure was assessed using a cued-recall measure. Multiple regression and analysis of covariance were used to analyze the data. Results A significant association was found between higher FFA exposure and higher BMI (p < 0.05; 2-tailed) in the entire sample, adjusting for ethnicity, other demographic variables, and levels of physical activity. However, when examined by ethnic group, the association between FFA exposure and BMI was not statistically significant. A statistically significant main effect of ethnicity on BMI was found. Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islanders (NHPI) reported the highest mean BMI [27.07 (SD ± 7.74) kg/m²] compared with the other four ethnic groups (p < 0.001). The effect of ethnicity on FFA exposure was not found to be statistically significant. Conclusion FFA exposure appears to adversely influence BMI in a population of predominantly AAPI young adults. Although we did not find ethnic differences in FFA exposure or in the association between FFA exposure and BMI, the current data make a case for similar future investigation with larger subgroup sample sizes. Regulations that curtail FFA exposure among young adults may be needed.
The regulation of unhealthy food marketing is a highly contested space that involves a diverse range of actors and institutions. There is a paucity of research on the strategies used by the different actors to influence these policies. This study examined the use of authority by different regulatory actors to influence food marketing policies. We conducted semi-structured interviews with (N = 24) government, industry, civil society and technical experts involved in the regulation of food and beverage marketing in Australia. We identified five types of authority: institutional, delegated, expert, principled and capacity-based authority. Actors from the advertising, food and media industries claim more authority than technical experts, civil society, and government actors, suggesting that industry actors have multiple pathways to influence policy. The industry's claims of delegated and institutional authority are highly contested by civil society, technical experts, and state/territory government actors and recognised by federal government actors. Claims of circumscribed institutional authority are common among federal government actors such as the National Department of Health, Australian Media and Communications Authority and Food Standards Australia New Zealand. The assertions of authority observed in this study highlight the fragmented manner of the Australian food marketing regulatory system and have implications for which actors should be held accountable for the current challenges in the governance of food marketing policies.
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During the last two decades, childhood obesity has become a global pandemic, creating harmful impacts on children, tutors, and society. If the obesity/overweight trend continues upwards, especially in developing countries, it may significantly alter millions of children's professional, social, and psychological well-being. Furthermore, it is conceivable that when obesity/overweight issues appear at a young age, they may persist during adulthood and disrupt individual development and community well-being. By targeting children at a very young age and with a broad array of strategies, junk food marketers have often been accused of inducing children to (over)consume junk food from an early age and throughout adolescence until adulthood. This paper reviews the literature about childhood obesity/overweight and junk food marketing strategies to develop a conceptual framework delineating the forces and counter-forces to the childhood obesity phenomenon and identify avenues for future research and managers.
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Objective The objective of this study is to assess gender representation in food and beverage print advertisements. Results The study follows a quantitative descriptive approach. Using a content analysis technique, we assessed the gender representation in 200 food and beverage print advertisements found in corner stores located in four areas around schools in Lima, Peru, and Guatemala City, Guatemala (100 advertisements per country). A total of 36% of the print advertisements exhibited a male main character for the case of Guatemala, while in Peru 14% of the print advertisements presented a male main character. Furthermore, in Guatemala, 22% of the main characters were male animated characters. Moreover, 27% of the print advertisements in Guatemala and 17%, in Peru were visually male-oriented. Overall, male characters appeared alongside sports references and in varied settings, whereas female characters were usually holding or consuming the product. In conclusion, although the majority of variables used to assess the representation of gender in food and beverage print advertisements were gender-neutral, those showing gender representation were mostly male-oriented. Despite its limited findings, the study provides evidence for the formulation of public policies and educational content aimed to protect children’s and adolescents’ health from the effects of food marketing.
This study engages framing theory to examine how movies represent animal-based foods such that children are socialized into eating them without question. Using a content analysis of top-grossing children’s fiction films released between 1999 and 2019, this paper explores how the consumption of animal-based foods is normalized both by the frequency of their appearance and by the ways in which they are discursively constructed. Findings reveal a statistically significant bias in favor of promoting animal-based foods as compared to USDA guidelines; and a qualitative review of food meanings: (1) associates animal product consumption with wealth, success and celebration; (2) links animal foods to Western dietary norms; and (3) normalizes this consumption by featuring animal-based foods as a backdrop to everyday life. Conclusions suggest that media framing contributes to the conveyance of food consumption norms that may have the potential to impact both short- and long-term eating behavior.
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Objective Exposure to unhealthy food advertising is a known determinant of children’s poor dietary behaviours. The purpose of this study was to quantify and characterize Canadian children’s exposure to food advertising on broadcast television and examine trends over time. Methods Objectively measured advertising exposure data for 19 food categories airing on 30 stations broadcast in Toronto were licenced for May 2011 and May 2019. Using ad ratings data, the average number of food advertisements viewed by children aged 2–11 years, overall, by food category and by type of television station (child-appealing, adolescent-appealing and generalist stations), was estimated per time period. Results In May 2019, children viewed an average of 136 food advertisements on television, 20% fewer than in May 2011. More than half of advertisements viewed in May 2019 promoted unhealthy food categories such as fast food (43% of exposure), candy (6%), chocolate (6%) and regular soft drinks (5%) and only 17% of their total exposure occurred on child-appealing stations. Between May 2011 and May 2019, children’s exposure increased the most, in absolute terms, for savory snack foods (+7.2 ad exposures/child), fast food (+5.4) and regular soft drinks (+5.3) with most of these increases occurring on generalist stations. Conclusion Canadian children are still exposed to advertisements promoting unhealthy food categories on television despite voluntary restrictions adopted by some food companies. Statutory restrictions should be adopted and designed such that children are effectively protected from unhealthy food advertising on both stations intended for general audiences and those appealing to younger audiences.
Adolescence is a transitional phase that spans from childhood to adulthood, during which physical and psychological mutations transform the individual. In this life stage, young consumers become more independent and start to take the first autonomous consumption decisions as a way of escaping from parental control. As a result, parents lose their primary influence on adolescents, who devote their attention to peers. Friends, then, become a source of inspiration in the consumption process, especially for those products that are publicly consumed or characterized by a strong symbolic meaning, including food (Story et al. 2002; Stanford University 2020). For these reasons, adolescence is an interesting context in which to explore how individuals build their future relationships with goods, services, and brands.
Institute of Medicine
  • Daniel R V B Anderson
Committee on Food Marketing and the Diets of Children and Youth J. MICHAEL MCGINNIS (Chair), Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC; DANIEL R. ANDERSON, Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; J. HOWARD BEALES III, School of Business, George Washington University, Washington, DC; DAVID V. B.