Topic 4 The role of media, advertising and internet

Screen media exposure leads to obesity in children and adolescents through different mechanisms:

  • Increased eating while viewing: children tend to consume more energy-dense snacks and drinks
  • Displacing physical activity
  • Exposure to high-calorie, low-nutrient food and beverage marketing
  • Reduced sleep duration: causes changes in the appetite-regulating hormones, can affect children’s choices to consume more calories and fewer nutritionally-dense foods; may lead to increased snacking.

Children are spending more and more time using computers, video games, tablets and smartphones

New media could be harnessed to prevent and reduce obesity:

  • Active video games may increase physical activity.
  • Stigma-free and positive messaging are more likely to engage people in healthy behavior changes
  • News reports framing obesity in a societal, rather than individual, context lead to more engagement and support for both community and personal action.
  • Messages about health consequences have the strongest effect overall, compared to others.

Source: Freepik

A Case Study on Food and Beverage Advertising in Videos Targeted at Children on Social Media”

The social media analytics site 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.