Food Marketing > Marketing Effects - Children and Teens


< Back to Food Marketing

Food marketing to children and teens increases their preferences for the unhealthy brands – including fast food, sugary cereals and drinks, snacks and candy – that are heavily marketed to them. Moreover, it increases total calories consumed, consumption of highly advertised product categories, positive taste perceptions, and perceived healthfulness of advertised products. Recent studies demonstrate a direct link between unhealthy food advertising and poor diet and diet-related diseases among children and teens.

Rudd Center Research

Marketing increases consumption of unhealthy food,
  • Emond, J.A., Longacre, M.R., Drake, K.M., Titus, L.J., Hendricks, K., MacKenzie, T., Harris, J.L., Carrol, J.E., Cleveland, L.P., Langeloh, G., & Dalton, M.A. (2018). The influence of child-directed TV advertising on preschoolers’ intake of high-sugar breakfast cereals in a prospective U.S. cohort. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published online.
  • Harris, J.L., Speers, S.E., Schwartz, M.B., & Brownell, K.D. (2012). U.S. food company branded games on the internet: Children’s exposure and effects on snack consumption. Journal of Children and Media, 6(1), 51-68.
  • Harris, J.L., Schwartz, M.B., Ustjanauskas, A, Ohri-Vachaspati, P., & Brownell, K.D. (2011). Effects of serving high-sugar cereals on children’s breakfast-eating behavior. Pediatrics, 127(1), 71-76.
  • Andreyeva, T., Kelly, I., & Harris, J.L. (2011). Exposure to food advertising on television: Associations with children’s fast food and soft drink consumption and obesity. Economics and Human Biology, 9(3), 221-233.
  • Harris, J.L., Bargh, J.A., & Brownell, K.D. (2009). Priming effects of television food advertising on eating behavior. Health Psychology, 28(4), 404-413.
Increased preferences for advertised foods,
  • Harris, J.L., & Kalnova, S. (2017). Food and beverage TV advertising to young children: Measuring exposure and potential impact. Appetite, in press.
  • Heard, A., Harris, J.L., Liu, S., & Schwartz, M.B. (2016). Piloting an online grocery store simulation to assess children’s food choices. Appetite, 96(1), 260-267.
  • Roberto, C., Baik, J., Harris, J.L., & Brownell, K.D. (2010). The influence of licensed characters on children’s taste and snack preferences. Pediatrics, 126(1), 88-93.
  • Harris, J.L. & Bargh, J.A. (2009). The relationship between television viewing and unhealthy eating: Implications for children and media interventions. Health Communication, 24, 660-673.
And leads to misperceptions of product healthfulness,
  • Harris, J.L., Hyary, M., & Schwartz, M.B. (2016). Effects of offering “look-alike” products as Smart Snacks in schools. Childhood Obesity, 12(6), 432-439.
  • Harris, J.L., Haraghey, K.S., LoDolce, M.E., & Semenza, N.L. (2017). Teaching children about good health? Halo effects in child-directed advertisements for unhealthy food. Pediatric Obesity, early view.
  • LoDolce, M.E., Harris, J.L., & Schwartz, M.B. (2013). Sugar as part of a balanced breakfast? What cereal advertisements teach children about healthy eating. Journal of Health Communication, 18(11), 1293-1309.