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New Media but Same Old Tricks: Food Marketing to Children in the Digital Age


‘New media’ refers to digital technologies, which offer unmatched opportunities for food companies to engage with young people. This paper explores the emergence of food marketing using new media, the potential impact of this marketing on young people, and current and potential policy responses to limit exposure to these promotions. Foremost in any informed policy discussion is the need for robust evidence to demonstrate the need for intervention. In this case, such evidence relates to the extent of children’s exposures to commercial food promotions via new media, and the nature of these promotions. Approaches to, and challenges of, collecting and assessing these data are discussed. There is accumulating evidence that food marketing on new media is increasing and influences children’s food preferences and choices. The impact of integrated campaigns, which reinforce commercial messages across multiple platforms, and of new media, which engage personally with potential consumers, is likely to be greater than that of traditional marketing.

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Becky Freeman has received research grants from NHMRC and ANPHA. Gabrielle Jenkin has received the following: University of Otago Research Grant, and University of Otago Health Sciences Post-Doctoral Award.

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Bridget Kelly and Gabrielle Jenkin declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Stefanie Vandevijvere has received a Fellowship through the University of Auckland, and received travel/accommodations expenses covered or reimbursed for attending International conferences from Heart Foundation New Zealand, Maurice and Phyllis Paykel Trust New Zealand, and Auckland Medical Research Foundation.

Becky Freeman has been a consultant for NSW Ministry of Health, WHO, and NSW Cancer Council, and has received speaking honoraria from Sax Institute.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Bridget Kelly.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Etiology of Obesity

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Kelly, B., Vandevijvere, S., Freeman, B. et al. New Media but Same Old Tricks: Food Marketing to Children in the Digital Age. Curr Obes Rep 4, 37–45 (2015).

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  • Food
  • Beverage
  • Marketing
  • Digital media
  • New media