Food, beverage and restaurant companies spend almost $14 billion per year on advertising in the United States. More than 80% of this advertising promotes fast food, sugary drinks, candy, and unhealthy snacks. Food advertising spending dwarfs the entire $1 billion budget for all chronic disease prevention and health promotion at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, food companies target children, teens and communities of color with marketing for their least healthy products. And this marketing undermines parents’ efforts to encourage healthy eating for their children and contributes to diet-related health disparities affecting communities of color.
Read our latest research on food marketing to children and their parents.
Rudd Center research analyzes food company marketing tactics and their impact on children and teens and informs policy efforts to reduce unhealthy food marketing affecting youth.
Food marketing to youth in different types of media and community locations:
Comprehensive FACTS reports document the marketing techniques and nutritional quality of cereal, fast food, sugary drinks, and snacks targeted to children and teens.
Television remains the primary source of youth’s exposure to food and beverage advertising.
Food marketing to children and teens in digital media, including social media and mobile devices, is rapidly expanding.
Food and beverage companies continue to target children with marketing in their schools.
Product packaging, displays and other promotions also target young people in supermarkets and other retailers.
Food marketing targets at-risk populations and negatively impacts children’s diets and health:
Targeted marketing disproportionately promotes sugary drinks, candy, snacks, and fast food to Black and Hispanic youth.
Marketing for baby and toddler food and drinks often promotes nutritionally poor products that are not consistent with expert recommendations.
Food marketing negatively affects children’s and teens’ diets and health. It increases calories consumed, preferences for unhealthy product categories, and perceptions of product healthfulness.
On-package claims and other marketing messages also affect parents’ beliefs about children’s food and drinks.
Opportunities for regulation and/or legislation to reduce unhealthy food marketing to youth: