Purpose of Review
Examine current research on how adolescents are influenced by junk food marketing; inform proposed policies to expand food marketing restrictions to protect children up to age 17.
We propose that this policy focus on junk food marketing
to younger children only is based on common misunderstandings and outdated theories about how food marketing works.
In fact, the application of current psychological theories to
explain how marketing affects consumers of all ages suggests
that adolescents may be particularly vulnerable to influence;
which also makes them an especially attractive target for junk
food companies. Furthermore, many common marketing techniques used to promote junk food appear designed specifically
to deactivate adolescents’ critical responses, thus effectively
reducing their ability and motivation to resist.
Hooked on Junk: Emerging Evidence on How Food Marketing Affects
Adolescents’ Diets and Long-Term Health
Jennifer L. Harris 1 & Sonja Yokum2 & Frances Fleming-Milici1
A systematic review of research on media food marketing
conducted with older children and adolescents found 28 studies that primarily assessed TV media in high-income countries, although the majority of studies examined pre- and early
adolescents (8–14 years)
Adolescents may be even more vulnerable to junk food marketing appeals than younger children. Additional research on how food marketing uniquely affects adolescents and efficacy of potential solutions to protect them from harm are critical to support stronger restrictions on junk food marketing to all children.
Food marketing, Adolescents,
Social media marketing,
Racial/ethnic targeted marketing
Harris, J.L., Yokum, S. & Fleming-Milici, F. Hooked on Junk: Emerging Evidence on How Food Marketing Affects Adolescents’ Diets and Long-Term Health. Curr Addict Rep 8, 19–27 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-020-00346-4