Taming the Obesity Beast: Children, Marketing, and Public Policy Considerations

(with Kathleen Seiders)


Journal of Public Policy & Marketing




This essay explores the policy implications of the findings in this special section for potential remedies and opportunities for further research in the critical area of obesity. Children are an important focus here both because of the dramatic increase in childhood obesity in recent decades and because they lack the cognitive development and social experience to process marketing communications with the sophistication of adults. In addition, children's food purchase decisions are substantially influenced by their parents. Although packaged food marketers are setting their own voluntary restrictions on products to be marketed during entertainment content targeted at children, the impact of such restrictions is limited because children are substantial viewers of general entertainment content. This essay suggests that more prominent nutrition disclosure oriented toward obesity concerns for both packaged foods and fast-food restaurants should be more fully considered. It further suggests that increased marketing research is needed to better understand children as consumers, the role of parents as gatekeepers, and the differences between ethnic population segments. Marketing research also can contribute to the assessment of the effectiveness of different regulatory approaches adopted by various countries and the viability of mass educational approaches versus individual encouragement by parents, doctors, and others. The authors note that because obesity is a long-term health problem, a longitudinal tracking study would be useful in studying both health effects over time and the effectiveness of various policy interventions.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Marketing | Public Health | Public Policy

Recommended Citation

Seiders, Kathleen, and Ross D Petty. 2007. "Taming the Obesity Beast: Children, Marketing, and Public Policy Considerations." Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 26, no. 2: 236-242.

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