Social media influencers often tout unhealthy foods, drinks to children, study finds

Social media influencers in style with youngsters principally promote unhealthy meals and beverage decisions on-line, a brand new study has discovered. Photo by boaphotostudio/Pixabay

May 5 (UPI) — Most food- and drink-related content material posted by “influencers” on social media fails to meet the World Health Organization’s requirements for promoting of those merchandise to youngsters, in accordance to a study offered Thursday.
Based on an evaluation of content material posted by German-language influencers on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, 75% of the featured meals and drinks had been excessive in salt, fats or sugar, the info, offered Thursday throughout the European Congress on Obesity in Maastricht, Netherlands, confirmed.

Because of those traits, producers and distributors of those merchandise wouldn’t be allowed to market them to youngsters in both Germany or Austria, the place a lot of the influencers are primarily based, the researchers mentioned.
The “majority” of posts weren’t labeled as commercials for the meals and beverage merchandise talked about, they mentioned.

“How can we count on our kids to eat healthily when content material on social media is skewed to promote meals excessive in fats, salt and sugar,” study co-author Maria Wakolbinger mentioned in a press launch.

“Influencers have large energy over what younger individuals really feel is related and interesting [and] our findings recommend that more often than not, influencers should not flagging when their posts are [advertisements],” mentioned Wakolbinger, a public well being researcher on the University of Vienna in Austria.
She and her colleagues urged governments to take steps to regulate meals and beverage advertising content material on social media.

In 2015, the WHO launched the “Children’s Code,” which made suggestions to member states relating to requirements for meals and beverage promoting for youngsters age 12 and youthful.
The objective of the requirements is to guarantee younger persons are not uncovered solely to promoting for unhealthy meals and beverage decisions, the company mentioned.
They had been crafted in response to the rising international weight problems disaster, which has seen some 40 million youngsters age 5 and youthful globally meet the standards for being severely obese, in accordance to the WHO.

Up to 20% of youngsters and adolescents age 19 and youthful within the United States meet the standards for weight problems, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.
For this study, the researchers analyzed the meals, snacks and drinks that appeared in posts and movies by six of the most well-liked German-speaking influencers with youngsters ages 13 to 17, who had a mixed whole of greater than 35 million followers or subscribers.

The influencers, who posted on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, had been chosen primarily based on having greater than 100,000 subscribers or followers on all three platforms in addition to their reputation with younger individuals and German-language content material, the researchers mentioned.
The researchers analyzed the final 20 movies or posts uploaded by every influencer earlier than May 1, 2021.
Of the 364 movies and posts — or nearly 13 hours of footage — one-quarter featured meals or drinks, for a complete of 409 merchandise, the info confirmed.
Based on the WHO nutrient tips, 75% of the featured meals and drinks had been thought of unhealthy and shouldn’t be marketed to youngsters, whereas solely 17% could possibly be, the researchers mentioned.
The dietary high quality of the remaining 8% couldn’t be decided, they mentioned.
Chocolate and sweets had been essentially the most generally posted about meals, accounting for almost one-quarter of posts, whereas ready-made comfort meals accounted for 9%.
More than half, or 53%, of the merchandise had been described and offered positively by the influencers and 73% of them had been proven being consumed by the influencers themselves.
In 60% of the movies, the product was talked about within the video description, with 19% citing the model title or producer, the researchers mentioned.

Marketing of unhealthy meals and beverage merchandise to youngsters has been linked with unhealthy food regimen decisions and weight acquire amongst younger individuals, earlier analysis suggests.
Currently, the United States has no rules limiting social media advertising of meals and drinks, although the meals trade does have voluntary requirements in place.
“We should crack down on social media and problem the position of influencers in junk meals advertising,” study co-author Eva Winzer mentioned in a press launch.
“In most international locations, there aren’t any restrictions on the advertising of unhealthy meals on web sites, social media or cellular functions,” mentioned Winzer, a post-doctoral researcher on the University of Vienna.

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