Food Marketing and Childhood Obesity

Even though obesity rates are at a record high, children continue to be inundated with marketing for foods high in fat, sugar, salt and calories.  The food industry exploits every technology and technique available to insinuate its brands into the fabric of childhood. Companies weave together television and Internet advertising, brand licensing, product placement, in-store advertising, premiums, cross-promotions, mobile, viral and in-school marketing to create omnipresent campaigns designed to take advantage of children's vulnerabilities.

For the food industry, incessant, sophisticated marketing has the desired effect - advertising influences children's brand preferences, purchase requests, and diets.  But for children, families, and society, the impact can be devastating. Childhood obesity has become a public health crisis. Overweight children are at risk for a number of serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes, a disease that used to be found only in adults.

Did you know?

  • In the past 30 years, the obesity rate among children ages 6-11 has quadrupled and nearly tripled for children 2-5.
  • About 98% of all televised food ads seen by children are for foods high in sugar, fat or sodium.
  • In 2006, more than 80 different media programs were used to promote food to children through brand licensing or toy giveaways.  That same year fast food restaurants sold more than 1.2 billion kids meals with toys.

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