Food Marketing to Children Online: A Content Analysis of Food Company Websites

Lisa B. Hurwitz*, Heather Montague, Ellen Wartella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since 2006, many U.S. food and beverage companies have pledged to market healthier foods to children to help combat the childhood obesity epidemic. Despite this, companies’ expenditures on online advertising have increased of late. To explore this seemingly contradictory situation, the authors conducted a content analysis of approximately 100 food and beverage brand websites, examining a multitude of online marketing practices across a variety of different products, as well as the relationship between marketing techniques and the nutritional profile of promoted foods. This is the first study to examine if nutrition varied by marketing technique. Few brands maintained child-oriented websites, but the brands that did have child-oriented websites included a large number of games promoting particularly obesogenic food products. Somewhat surprisingly, games with many brand identifiers were paired with slightly less obesogenic foods. These findings present a mixed picture of the threat posed by online child-oriented food marketing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-371
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Communication
Volume32
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 4 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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