Using brands and logos associated with unhealthy foods to advertise healthier options led to teens craving fries and burgers associated with the brand.

Time to can fast food marketing

January 30, 2020 BY

New research out of the University of Michigan has found teenagers are particularly susceptible to unhealthy food ads, prompting VicHealth and the Obesity Policy Coalition to call for higher standards on fast food marketing.

The study revealed the ads targeted the reward centres of teenagers’ brains, leading to increased consumption of fast food.

Alarmingly, fast food ads for healthy alternatives such as salads also used branding and logos associated with predominantly unhealthy foods.

In response to the research, VicHealth executive manager of programs Kirstan Corben is calling for greater protection for kids and teens from the manipulative tactics of unhealthy food marketers.

“This research shows the impact unhealthy food and drink marketing is having on vulnerable kids and teenagers,” Ms Corben said.

“Fast food advertising is rampant and incessant, and this research shows how it leads to kids eating more unhealthy food.

“These companies spend millions on advertising, promotions and sponsorships and they do it because it leads to more kids and teenagers eating their unhealthy products.

“It’s time we put our kids’ health above the profits of the unhealthy food industry.”

Obesity Policy Coalition executive manager Jane Martin said with more than a quarter of Victoria kids above a healthy weight, there needed to be higher standards for marketing to kids and teenagers.

She also said she wanted to see a restriction on unhealthy food and drink advertising during peak viewing times for kids, restrictions to make sport and major community events free from unhealthy food and drink sponsorship, and mandatory regulation to stop unhealthy advertising in government owned spaces such as train and bus stations.