Marketing of Unhealthy Foods Pervasive in U.S. Public Schools Survey Finds

Developing a valid survey and assessment of food marketing in schools

The marketing of unhealthy foods in schools has been posited as one possible contributing factor in the rise of childhood obesity.

In 2004–05, researchers at Arizona State University's Commercialism in Education Research Unit designed and conducted the first national survey of commercial food marketing practices in public schools using a random sample. The project team purposefully oversampled schools in low-socioeconomic communities to make sure schools from low-income communities were adequately represented.

Key Findings

  • Between 26.6 and 30.3 million public school students in the United States are exposed, in school, to marketing by corporations that sell unhealthy foods.

  • Corporations that sell unhealthy foods conduct the majority of the marketing found in schools.

  • Most schools do not receive significant money as a result of permitting corporate marketing on campus.

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