Good, Bad and Ugly in Food Marketing Focus of $6.4 Million Childhood Obesity Grant to Rudd Center at Yale

The link between food marketing and the growing childhood obesity epidemic is the focus of a $6.4 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.

Principal investigators, Rudd Center Director Kelly D. Brownell and Deputy Director Marlene Schwartz, will use the grant to develop a three-year program to identify opportunities to improve the health of children and adolescents in the United States by reducing the harm associated with food marketing to youth.

Jennifer L. Harris, director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center said, “We are excited that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has agreed to fund such an extensive analysis of the scope and impact of food marketing practices targeted to youth. We look forward to working with the public health community and the food industry to identify changes in marketing practices to protect the health of youth and curb childhood obesity.”

The project aims to improve understanding within the public health community about the extent and effects of food marketing practices targeted at youth. Through this project, the Rudd Center will:

  • Develop a Youth Marketing Index to identify and quantify the best and worst food marketing practices targeted at youth.
  • Conduct research to document childhood exposure to key forms of food marketing, including television, the Internet and product placements, with an emphasis on demographic groups most at risk for childhood obesity.
  • Conduct a range of studies to measure the impact of potential changes in food marketing policies and practices.
  • Evaluate the efficacy of food company pledges to reduce unhealthy marketing to children, including company pledges introduced outside of the U.S.
  • Assess opinions on issues of food marketing to youth and provide resources to the public designed to increase knowledge about the industry’s practices and their impact on youth health and nutrition.

The ultimate goal of the project is to increase market and consumer demand, as well as industry incentives, for marketing practices that will improve children’s health.

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Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326