Assessing the research base for the policy debate over the effects of food advertising to children.
International journal of advertising, 24
This article argues that the long-running and hotly-contested debate over the effects of food promotion, especially television advertising, on children is mired in two misconceptions. First, a vision of the ‘ideal experiment’ persistently leads research in the field to be judged as flawed and inadequate, at times according to unrealistic standards of evidence, with the result that the two sides to the debate seem locked in an unproductive methodological argument. Second, that the theoretical debate is rather narrowly framed in terms of singular media effects, thereby polarising discussion into pro-effects/null-effects camps instead of recognising the multiplicity of determinants of children’s eating behaviour in everyday contexts, and locating the role of television advertising within this. It is also suggested, however, that academic and policy commentators are often in greater tacit agreement than their muchpublicised conclusions would indicate, opening the way for a more complex and negotiated consensus over the role of television advertising as one among several contributors to children’s ill-health and obesity.
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