Fast Food in the Movies
Dartmouth research finds that teens and "tweens" see billions of impressions every year in popular films
"This study suggests that popular movies could be a potent source of food and beverage advertising to youth," according to Anna Adachi-Mejia, PhD, a member of the Cancer Control Research Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center.
Positively Affecting Attitudes about Fast-Food
An impression measures one viewing or exposure to a food or beverage product by one individual. Dartmouth researchers measured impressions by dividing gross box office revenues by ticket prices to determine in-theater viewings, and then multiplied in-theater viewings for each movie by the total food and beverage appearances.
Television advertising to youth has been studied for years. Feature-length films, however, are a newer advertising vehicle to children and teens. An emerging area of research has found that the content of a movie can influence health-risk behaviors. Research shows varying effects on product placements on consumer behavior. Public health experts worry that more subtle non-traditional advertising to youth, such as movie product placements, positively affects a youth’s attitudes toward such placed products and increases purchasing requests for those products.
"Given our concerns about the childhood obesity epidemic, especially in the context of cancer prevention," said Adachi-Mejia, "this study suggests that further studies are needed to examine the potential impact of advertising nutrient-poor food to children through movies, and possible ways to mitigate the impact."
The research study was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health. The study, "Giving the wrong impression: food and beverage brand impressions delivered to youth through popular movies," was published by the Journal of Public Health. Authors included:
- Monica Skatrud-Mickelson, Department of Pediatrics, Dartmouth Medical School
- Anna Adachi-Mejia, Department of Pediatrics and The Dartmouth Institute, Dartmouth Medical School
- Todd MacKenzie, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Dartmouth Medical School
- Lisa Sutherland, Department of Pediatrics, Dartmouth Medical School
Both Dr. Adachi-Mejia and Dr. Sutherland are program members of Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s Cancer Control Research Program.
December 26, 2011
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