Can The Media Solve Climbing Obesity Rates? part 3

Marketing regulations, in addition to mass communication campaigns that promote healthy dietary habits, have the potential to reduce overweight/obesity drastically. Restricting product marketing has been cited as a highly cost-effective method of reducing chronic disease globally (citation) because it involves implementing government-based restrictions on food manufacturers and advertisers. I believe this method has the potential to be highly effective because marketers succeed in convincing populations to desire and purchase their products (be them healthy or unhealthy). They do this though audience targeting strategies like giving celebrities endorsements, using dialects specific to populations an advertisement will be run in and by using popular cartoons on ads that target children. In particular, I believe that when companies advertise to children and caregivers purchase the unhealthy foods they desire, companies play a role in shaping children’s taste preferences. These preferences can follow children into adulthood and place them at a greater risk for overweight/obesity. Marketing regulations could potentially decrease the awareness about and desirability of unhealthy food by limiting the use of certain strategies.

As societies become more Westernized, overweight and obesity rates rise [1].  This association could exist for a number of reasons, but I believe marketing and mass communication play a large role. Food manufacturers invest millions of dollars into marketing unhealthy food products to populations at large, and there are not enough public health initiatives that promote healthy dietary behaviors using mass communication. We, as public health nutrition professionals, understand the relationship between diet and weight, but to make changes, there must be efforts to reach populations where they are. From what I have observed, people are spending more and more time with the media (especially social media), and this presents an opportunity to communicate with populations about diet innovatively and engagingly. Why not promote healthy dietary behaviors through mediums audiences are currently using?