World Health Organization Believes Children Are Bombarded With Online Junk Food Advertisements, One Reason Why Obesity Increased

By Chiara Leghler, Parent Herald November 07, 04:40 am
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A photo showing a burger. Online advertisements reportedly contribute to obesity in children.
(Photo : Common Sense Media/YouTube)

Child obesity is on the rise and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), one reason affecting this occurrence has something to do with online advertisements. According to the findings, children are bombarded with online junk food advertisements.

Health experts with WHO are calling on the government to take action regarding the amount of marketing products targeting children via digital media. They say that online marketing is largely unregulated and food firms should be banned from misusing the platform in order to harm children, Plymouth Herald reported.

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, added in the report that prevention of childhood obesity is the highest political priority but the digital marketing techniques are not being regulated enough. Parents are also deemed to be unaware of the impact of digital marketing, WHO reported.

In the study by WHO, they looked at how advertisers adopted to the digital media, how children use the digital media and how children react to the advertisements. WHO found out that children are exposed to these advertisements not only through social media but also on advertise-based games.

One of the health experts who contributed in the study is Dr. Emma Boyland of the University of Liverpool and she said that the food, marketing and digital industries have access to a huge amount of information regarding kids' exposure to high fat, high salt or high sugar (HFSS) foods and drinks. These advertisements also have influence on the behavior of children because these HFSS foods are cheaper than healthier options. This then makes children change their eating habits that increase the risk of becoming obese.

Some of the techniques used by companies are the geo-location date from mobile devices and the partnering of food chains with gaming companies. For the geo-location, marketers are able to deliver advertisements if they see that users are in an area where specific products could be found.

The companies then urge mobile users to walk in and buy at the food chain. The administration has not yet commented on this matter.

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