Experts at the World Health Organization say that children are consistently exposed—on a daily basis—to junk food ads in video blogs and social media and mobile apps. According to its latest report, many parents are completely oblivious to how much this exposure influences their kids to make poor eating decisions.
Unfortunately, the report says, children are the target of these junk food ads. Accordingly, the WHO criticizes world governments because they do not take enough action to reduce and/or prevent these ads from circulating through social media, overwhelming children the world over with a desire to eat the salty, sugary, processed goodies.
The report claims that junk food companies are to blame, of course, because they intentionally use digital analytics and geo-location. That means these companies—and their advertising entities—are specifically honing in on vulnerable people—like children—and using those vulnerabilities to influence their food choices.
The WHO report details: “In digital media, an extensive, highly-complex system of advertising delivery has evolved, through which marketers can access much more specific audiences than in the broadcast era. For fast-food brands, geo-location data from mobile devices enable marketers to deliver ads and special offers in real time when users are in the area.”
Now, in the United States there are already some protections in place. For example, the USA has the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which aims to limit the amount of data that marketing agencies can gain from children. Still, even with such safeguards in place, the WHO says the problem is massive and requires immediate attention; not just in the United States, but across the globe.
To put this into perspective, though, doctors stress that children who eat too much junk food will develop chronic malnutrition problems like type 2 diabetes and obesity. To recover from obesity, they continue, requires adherence to strict dietary and lifestyle management programs.
The WHO report goes on to say, “Children’s participation in digital media should not be predicated on receiving digital (high fat, sugar or salt food) advertising, nor should it be predicated on ‘devolving’ consent to parents.”
And the report also criticizes vloggers who regularly receive money to promote or endorse junk food in their video productions.