Food Marketing to Children and Adolescents: What Do Parents Think?

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Rudd Report

Food marketing to children and adolescents: What do parents think? October, 2012

w w w. ya l e r u d d c e n t e r . o r g

authors Jennifer L. Harris, PhD, MBA Frances Fleming Milici, PhD Vishnudas Sarda, MBBS, MPH Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD

acknowledgements We would like to thank Barbara Hamill and Trisha Carr for their valuable assistance in creating and fielding the survey, and we are extremely grateful to Grant Olscamp for creating the data tables and Cathryn Dembek for helping prepare the report. We also thank Sarah DeLucia, Roberta Friedman, Carol Hazen, and Jennifer Pomeranz for their very helpful comments on earlier drafts. Support for this project was provided by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Rudd Foundation.


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executive summary



11 12 14 16 18

Awareness of food marketing to children Perceived impact of food marketing to children Perceived environmental influences Support for policies regarding food marketing to children

21 24

Implications for policy makers and public health advocates




appendix a. methods


appendix B. taBles of results


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list of taBles 9 Table 1. Survey questions 10 Table 2. Comparison groups 11 Table 3. Sample characteristics 12 Table 4. Top places where children see/hear food marketing (after TV)

list of figures 13 Figure 1. Categories of foods
and beverages that children see advertised most often

taBles of results 35 Table B1. Perceptions about the
foods and beverages marketed most often

15 Figure 2. Impact of food marketing
on children by race/ethnicity

36 Table B2. Perceptions about the
foods and beverages marketed least often

15 Figure 3. Impact of different types
of food marketing on children by age of oldest child

37 Table B3. Beliefs about the impact
of food and beverage marketing

12 Table 5. Top foods and beverages in
advertising that children see/hear

16 Figure 4. Obstacles to ensuring 14 Table 6. Concerns about media’s effects on children healthy eating habits in children

38 Table B4. Perceptions about the
impact of different types of food and beverage marketing on children’s eating habits

17 Figure 5. Negative influence of 19 Table 7. Support for actions to promote healthy eating habits by political orientation different institutions on healthy eating

39 Table B5. Changes in perceptions
about the impact of food marketing (2009 to 2011)

18 Figure 6. Support for actions to
promote healthy eating habits

40 Table B6. Perceived obstacles to 20 Figure 7. Increase in support for regulations to limit marketing of unhealthy foods to children under 12 ensuring healthy eating habits for children

41 Table B7. Perceptions about the
negative influence of different institutions and individuals in promoting healthy eating habits

42 Table B8. Changes in perceived
environmental influences (2009 to 2011)

43 Table B9. Support for actions to
promote healthy eating habits to children

44 Table B10. Support for regulations
to limit specific types of unhealthy food marketing to children under 12

45 Table B11. Changes in support for
regulations (2009 – 2011)


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Executive Summary

Parents have the consumer power to insist that food and media companies improve their youthtargeted marketing practices and the political power to demand government action. This research is the first to examine what parents really think about food marketing to their children. Food marketing contributes to poor diet and obesity among youth, and public health experts believe that the obesity crisis cannot be resolved without dramatic changes in food marketing to children and adolescents. The food industry has responded to these concerns with self-regulatory pledges that have produced some small changes, but...
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