Children’s health, privacy at risk from digital marketing

Children’s health, privacy at risk from digital marketing

For the first time, researchers and health experts have undertaken a comprehensive analysis of the concerning situation in the World Health Organization European Region regarding digital marketing to children of foods high in fats, salt and sugars.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published the report, which calls for immediate action by policy makers to recognise and address the growing issue of targeted marketing to kids through digital media.

Dr Emma Boyland, from the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, in collaboration with The Open University, WHO, University of Melbourne and Flinders University, produced the report which examines trends in media use among children, marketing methods in the new digital media landscape and children’s engagement with such marketing.

In the absence of effective regulations for digital media in many countries, children are increasingly exposed to persuasive and individually-tailored marketing techniques through, for example, social media sites and advergames. This trend persists, despite the stubbornly high rates of childhood obesity found almost universally in the WHO European region.

Food marketing has been identified by the scientific community as an important contributor to the so-called ‘obesogenic’ environment, where foods high in fats, salt and sugars are promoted extensively, are more visible, as well as cheaper and easier to obtain than healthy options. Food marketing has been consistently demonstrated to influence children’s food preferences and choices, shaping their dietary habits and increasing the risk of becoming obese.

Digital marketing offers a loophole for marketers, as there is currently little or no effective regulation and minimal efforts to control it. Furthermore, due to the ability to tailor adverts online to a specific audience, marketing online is potentially much more powerful and targeted to the individual child and their social network… Read More>>

Source: Science Daily

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