Children are a prime target for marketing of foods and beverages. A 12-nation study of children television programs during children’s peak viewing times found that 37% of advertisements were for food, and of these, 95% were for unhealthy foods. Moreover, food and beverage marketing has been shown to be associated with increased consumption of fast foods, as well as other unhealthy products high in fat, sodium and sugars.
How are children targeted?
The world of children’s marketing is very different from a generation ago. Gone are the days when parents could solve the problem by just turning off the TV. Children are bombarded with marketing messages from food and beverages companies through numerous forms of print, and digital media, as well as a host of other deceptive marketing techniques. The Internet is a key venue—85% of food brands most heavily promoted to children have websites that directly target children or have content that interests them. The websites include games, promotions, viral marketing and messaging techniques, and links to movies and television. 60% of popular children’s website market unhealthy foods and beverages. The impact of this marketing has been to negatively influence eating habits and health of children. For specific examples of marketing targeting children please see How Kids are Targeted.