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Youth obesity policy survey - Qualitative scoping work

Girl TV and junk food
Published: July 2019

Aim

This qualitative study builds on previous work to provide evidence on young people’s exposure to digital marketing of high fat salt sugar (HFSS) food and drinks and perceived impact of this on their food and drink choices.

Findings

Young people feel universally exposed to, and targeted by, HFSS marketing – digital marketing of HFSS products was commonly recalled by young people, particularly online and through social media. Young people were able to recall specific instances when advertising had prompted them to buy or ask a parent for a product. Despite this, young people commonly felt that they were immune to advertising.

Young people are influenced to consume HFSS products in other ways – additional factors such as cost, convince and wanting to be healthy play a role in young people’s food choices.

Young people are concerned about HFSS marketing and are supportive of protective measures – concerns were expressed by the young people that HFSS advertising was unrealistic and glamourised the products. The participants wanted to see less advertising of HFSS products and suggested restrictions such as bans, time restrictions on when advertising can be shown and more truthful depiction of products in adverts.

Methodology

We conducted 9 focus groups with 60 participants aged between 11 and 19 across Scotland, England and Wales. Young people were asked about their food preferences, social media use, unprompted recall of HFSS advertising and prompted reactions to advertisements for HFSS items.

 

Download the executive summary

Download the full report