Unhealthy Food Marketing as a Public Health Policy Priority Issue – Food&Nutrition Example

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"Unhealthy Food Marketing as a Public Health Policy Priority Issue" is a marvelous example of a paper on food and nutrition. There seems to be an agreement on the notion that the American children are becoming fatter but disagree on its causes. One of the major contributors to obesity in American children is a lack of exercise; the children eat more calories than they burn off in physical activities. The other primary cause is food marketing of low-nutrition junk-food. The responsibility rests on society on a collective basis. It is imperative to recognize low nutrition food marketing as a public health issue that needs to be resolved on a matter of priority.

The worrying aspect of secondary school children reporting unhealthy eating behaviors, especially on daily basis can result in poorer mental and physical health (Hawley, Roberto, Bragg, Liu, Schwartz & Brownell, 2013). Objective food marketing has already been identified as a crucial driver of the childhood obesity epidemic. Companies play sports figures on food and beverage products, and these items are targeted towards children (Hawley et al. , 2013).

In the following sections, it will be made clear why the nursing community needs to play an effective role.   Key Strategies Obesity is a growing concern at national and international levels. It is increasingly recognized that the industry has a role in it and hence, needs to be involved in controlling the obesity epidemic (Ronit and Jensen, 2014). The concurrent increase in weight problems across the globe seems to be driven primarily by changes in the international food system, which is producing more processed, inexpensive and marketed meals than ever before (Swinburn, Sacks, Hall, McPherson, Finegood, Moodie & Gortmaker, 2011).

When this fact is coupled with aggressive marketing strategies of food to children it doubles the damage. The advertisements make the customers seek out these affordable and tasty snacks. Food marketing to children is a national problem and the nursing community needs to play its effective role in curbing it. Within populations, the interaction between ecological and individual elements, together with genetic make-up, explains variability in body size among people. However, even with this individual variation, the pestilence has predictable patterns in subpopulations.

For instance, in low-income countries, weight problems mostly impact middle-aged adults (particularly girls) from wealthy, city environments; because in high-earnings countries it affects both sexes and all ages (Swinburn et al. , 2011). However, it is disproportionately higher in disadvantaged groups. Contrary to other major causes of preventable death and disability, comparable to tobacco use, accidents, and infectious illnesses, there aren't any exemplary populations through which the obesity epidemic has been reversed by public health measures. This lack will increase the urgency of creating policy action, with precedence on the reduction of the supply-side drivers.

The supply-side plays a significant role than the buyers’ own choices. This is the key to understanding the root of the problem. One cannot expect children to make rational decisions based on the calorie count. They get lunch money from their parents and buy whatever they feel like. The responsibility rests on what is available to them and what sort of advertisements promote those products.     Empirical evidence supporting policy lapses in the advertisement of food to children According to a study conducted by K Ronit, and J D Jensen on various publications, self-regulation in the food industry is in a dire situation (2014).

They suggested stricter regulation on marketing behavior in the food industry. Back in 2004, Congress had already acknowledged this issue and had asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find the causes of obesity in American children. The result was the publication of the study, Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity. The study confessed that a healthy environment for children in the US needs to be created on a priority basis.

The problem today is not the acknowledgment of the issue. The need is the implementation and modification of such policies on a regular and priority basis. There is already extensive work under progress in analyzing the problem and recommending preventive programs (Weimer-Jehle, Deuschle, and Rehaag, 2012). It is a fact that food promotions have a direct impact on a child's nutrition knowledge, buying behavior, and consumption patterns. As a consequence, they have a direct bearing on diet-related health (Cairns, Angus, Hastings, and Caraher, 2013). The current market practices promote low-nutrition foods and beverages.

The need is to refurbish a policy that supports the rebalancing of the food marketing landscape (Cairs et al. , 2013). This policy shift needs to be on a recurring basis. The evidence on marketing practices from the year 2003 to 2012 reveals that there has been very little progress made towards achieving this goal. The need is for conducting policy-relevant research on a priority basis. Interventions cannot be ruled out of the equation as an effective way to curb the situation. Previous researchers have proven that poor diets and eating habits contribute to numerous adverse health outcomes (Zahra, Ford, and Jodrell, 2013).

A worrisome number of secondary school children reported unhealthy eating habits and daily consumption of junk food, which might be the reason for poor mental and physical health (Zahra et al. , 2013).   The study by J. Zahra, T. Ford, and D. Jodrell (2013) also suggested that interventions in diet improvement might be more helpful if they encompass parenting strategies. This only strengthens the argument that food advertisements need to follow stricter policies; informed parents will make better buying choices.         Importance and Impact on Nursing This issue affects nursing practices because nursing education compels students to adhere to the code of ethics.

It is their duty to contribute to a healthier society and need to point out malpractices such as unhealthy food marketing. The nurses have an obligation to influence positive change in society. They are responsible for inspiring the families and local communities towards making better food choices that can help eradicate health problems such as obesity. For this reason, disseminating information, creating awareness about the issue of child obesity is their duty.

The nurses need to recommend suggestions for national health policy. When they know from research journals that food marketing is a major factor in shaping food choices they need to raise their voice in curbing the situation. The nursing community does not have the same power as congress but ultimately it will be the nursing community that will suffer from this issue more in the long run. The nursing community bears more critical responsibility. By playing an effective role in making food advertisements better, the food quality will improve across the nation.

This will be result in more informed customers and more pro-active parents buying nutrition-rich food for their children.               Conclusion In conclusion, the current policy on unhealthy food marketing is not sufficient, or it is not active enough to resolve the problem of child obesity effectively. The evidence suggests that the ten-year progress made in this regard is simply not acceptable. In fact, current marketing practices promote low-nutrition foods and beverages. Different researchers suggest that secondary school children consume junk food on the daily basis, and it affects their mental and physical health.

The excuse that ‘ buyer be aware’ does not apply, healthy food advertisements have psychological triggers. They use covert persuasion tactics to convince the customers to spend money on the products. People cannot buy (at least in such enormous quantities) what is not promoted to them. Congress already recognized this issue back in 2004 and issued a report on it. The need of the hour is not a mere acknowledgment of the issue. The policy needs to be practiced on a priority basis.


Hawley, K. L., Roberto, C. A., Bragg, M. A., Liu, P. J., Schwartz, M. B., & Brownell, K. D. (2013). The science on front-of-package food labels. Public health nutrition, 16(03), 430-439.

K Ronit, J D Jensen. (2014) Obesity and industry self-regulation of food and beverage marketing: a literature review. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 68, 753-759.

J. Zahra, T. Ford, D. Jodrell. (2013) A cross-sectional survey of daily junk food consumption, irregular eating, mental and physical health, and parenting style of British secondary school children. Child: Care, Health and Development,

Swinburn, B. A., Sacks, G., Hall, K. D., McPherson, K., Finegood, D. T., Moodie, M. L., & Gortmaker, S. L. (2011). The global obesity pandemic: shaped by global drivers and local environments. The Lancet, 378(9793), 804-814.

Wolfgang Weimer-Jehle, Jürgen Deuschle, Regine Rehaag. (2012) Familial and societal causes of juvenile obesity—a qualitative model on obesity development and prevention in socially disadvantaged children and adolescents. Journal of Public Health.

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