The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation asked the question about the impact of marketing and advertising of food to kids. The Foundation is a non-profit, private entity that focuses on major health care issues facing the nation. It operates as an independent voice and source of facts and analysis for policymakers, the media, the health care community and the general public. They recently released the results of their analysis of online advertising to children.
The report, "It's Child's Play: Advergaming and the Online Marketing of Food to Children," found that more than 85 percent of the top food brands on TV that target children also use branded Web sites to market to children online. The study documents the use of "advergames," online games using a company's product or brand characters, on 73 percent of the corporate-sponsored Web sites.
The study looked at 77 Web sites including 96 food brands oriented toward children. This report analyzed more than 4,000 Web pages that received more than 12 million hits from kids ages 2-11. About two-thirds of the sites used viral marketing in which children were encouraged to send e-mails to their friends about a product or invite them to visit the company's Web site.
Other key findings released from the study include:
Unlike television, these corporate-based Web sites that offer interactive opportunities have compounded the degree of influence over children's choices. In fact it has been suggested that the time kids spend online may be one contributing factor to the rising tide of childhood obesity. The current trend suggests 50 percent of children could be overweight by 2010, and that's a pretty startling statistic if it becomes reality. There's no doubt that the impact could be far-reaching.
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