Parent Focus Groups on Food Marketing to Children

Posted by on January 02, 2012

Public health experts emphasize the need for regulations limiting unhealthy food marketing to children to help solve the childhood obesity crisis; however, increased public support is necessary to implement such policies. We conducted six focus groups with Caucasian, Hispanic and African American parents in which we explored potential ways to increase awareness of the harmful effects of child-targeted food marketing in order to enhance support for government policies limiting these practices.

In general, parents expressed low awareness of food marketing and its negative impact on children. Yet examples of current food marketing practices presented during the groups effectively convinced many parents that the issue merits further action. Some parents supported government-level solutions and wanted to personally engage in actions to address the issue. Despite their support, many parents also perceived potential barriers to the effective implementation of proposed solutions.

This qualitative research demonstrates that increased awareness of food marketing practices targeting children together with examples of potential actions that can be enacted at the local level are likely to increase support for societal-level solutions to address the issue. These findings suggest a significant opportunity for communities and advocacy groups to educate parents and effectively enlist their support for local action to limit food marketing to children.

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