Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
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Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
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Potential Policy Solutions

The massive amount of marketing for calorie-dense nutrient-poor foods that young people encounter daily poses significant long-term risks to their health. Substantial reductions in food marketing to children and adolescents are needed. We propose that parents, child advocates and policymakers can play an important role in protecting children and adolescents from the unhealthy influence of food marketing.

Educational solutions will not offset the risks of exposure to food marketing. Food marketing is often specifically designed to influence without conscious and rational consideration of the messages presented and to take advantage of young people’s developmental vulnerabilities.

  • The American Psychological Association (APA) concludes that advertising to children younger than 8 is unfair. Young children lack the cognitive ability to understand the persuasive intent of advertising, a necessary skill to counteract its influence.
  • The Food Marketing Defense Model uses psychological research to demonstrate that it may be virtually impossible for any child or adolescent to defend against most common food marketing practices.

Industry self-regulation in its current form has done little to reduce young people’s exposure to marketing for foods of poor nutritional quality.

Government regulation of food advertising in the media faces barriers due to the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution which protects commercial speech. However, legal scholars propose that restrictions on food marketing to children do not conflict with the First Amendment.

States and municipalities can enact policies at the local level to reduce young people’s daily exposure to food marketing in their own communities.

Research and resources