Background: Food advertising increases young peoples acute calorie intake and in response, the UK Government is consulting on a 9 pm pre-watershed for television/online advertising for high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) foods; however, more subtle effects of advertising on childrens understanding and attitudes are unclear. We undertook a systematic review assessing the influence of advertising on children and adolescents decision-making. A key element of the work was a patient and public involvement (PPI) exercise which sought to gain an understanding of young peoples perspectives of the findings and proposed policy changes.
Methods: The PPI group comprised young people from across England and was facilitated by the National Childrens Bureau in London, UK. The young people were all trained young research advisers, aged 825 years. Researchers facilitated a 2-hour group discussion to explore what the young people perceived to be the key findings from the review and to discuss proposed and potential policy initiatives.
Results: Nine young people (aged 1023 years) agreed that advertising strongly influences behaviour, even if there is an understanding about the persuasive nature of advertising. The group supported a pre-watershed ban of television advertising of HFSS foods. There was support for either an overall online pre-watershed ban or for targeted sites (e.g. YouTube). The group was surprised that advertising restrictions were self-regulated and were aware of pressures from the food industry. The young people had various ideas for future policy initiatives: adverts be labelled within social media posts and with stricter rules for influencers; clearer warnings on food packaging; improved ease of lodging complaints; increased advertising of healthy foods; and increased availability of affordable healthier foods.
Conclusions: This user-involvement group were enthusiastic about the topic, felt strongly that advertising was a powerful influence on young peoples behaviour, and should be strongly regulated. The PPI exercise was insightful, and made a substantial contribution to the potential impact of this work on policy initiatives.
Keywords: Obesity, child and adolescent health, policy, patient and public involvement
Disclosure: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
12 Sep 2019 - 13 Sep 2019