Examining the impact of youth-targeted social-media marketing of foods and beverages

The Foundation's program, Healthy Eating Research: Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity, was designed to support investigator-initiated research to identify and assess environmental and policy influences with the greatest potential to improve healthy eating and weight patterns among the nation's children.Food and beverage marketing to youth using social media has grown dramatically, with the leading companies pioneering digital practices that are transforming both advertising and ad measurement. It is critically important for the research, advocacy and public policy communities to be informed about these major new practices. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in particular, is in need of an independent analysis that assesses how these techniques are currently being used in the food and beverage marketplace, especially as the commission faces important upcoming policy decisions that will have a major impact on digital marketing to children and youth. The aims of this project are to: (1) identify the leading vendors of social media marketing tools, especially those used by food and beverage companies; (2) analyze the specific business objectives of leading food companies who use social media; (3) document the role of these new techniques to market food and beverage products and assess their capabilities; (4) identify how food marketers are currently using them to target youth; (5) assess how social media platforms are affecting other media channels and advertising of food products, including mobile devices; and (6) explore the impact these methods may have on nutrition decisions of youth.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $124,333.00

Awarded on: 6/11/2011

Time frame: 8/1/2011 - 4/30/2012

Grant Number: 69174


Center for Digital Democracy

1621 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 550
Washington, 20009-1051


Jeffrey Alan Chester
Project Director


Kathryn C. Montgomery
Project Director