Screen media exposure leads to obesity in children and adolescents through different mechanisms:
Children are spending more and more time using computers, video games, tablets and smartphones
New media could be harnessed to prevent and reduce obesity:
The social media analytics site SocialBlade.com was used to identify the most popular YouTube videos (n = 250) targeting children. Ads encountered while viewing these videos were recorded and analyzed for type of product promoted and ad format (video vs. overlay). Food and beverage ads were further coded based on the food category and persuasive marketing techniques used.
In total 187 ads were encountered in sampled videos. Food and beverage ads were the most common at 38% (n=71), among which 56.3% (n = 40) promoted non core foods. Ads for non core foods were more commonly delivered as video rather than overlay ads. Among ads promoting non core foods, the most commonly employed persuasive marketing techniques found were taste appeal (42.3%), uniqueness/novelty (32.4%), the use of animation (22.5%), fun appeal (22.5%), use of promotional characters (15.5%), price (12.7%), and health and nutrition benefits (8.5%).
Food and beverage ads appeared most frequently (reflecting overall trends in television ads), with more than half of these promoting non core or unhealthy foods. Unhealthy food ads were to a greater extent delivered via more enticing ad formats compared to ads for other foods. Policies regulating food marketing to children need to be extended to cover online content.