A crisis in the marketplace: how food marketing contributes to childhood obesity and what can be done

Annu Rev Public Health. 2009;30:211-25. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.031308.100304.


Reducing food marketing to children has been proposed as one means for addressing the global crisis of childhood obesity, but significant social, legal, financial, and public perception barriers stand in the way. The scientific literature documents that food marketing to children is (a) massive; (b) expanding in number of venues (product placements, video games, the Internet, cell phones, etc.); (c) composed almost entirely of messages for nutrient-poor, calorie-dense foods; (d) having harmful effects; and (e) increasingly global and hence difficult to regulate by individual countries. The food industry, governmental bodies, and advocacy groups have proposed a variety of plans for altering the marketing landscape. This article reviews existing knowledge of the impact of marketing and addresses the value of various legal, legislative, regulatory, and industry-based approaches to change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Consumer Advocacy
  • Food Industry*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Mass Media
  • Obesity* / etiology
  • Obesity* / prevention & control
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Public Policy
  • Social Marketing*