Junk food brands use social media to market to kids, young adults

Social media

After reviewing 27 top-ranking food and beverage brand pages on Facebook, a team of researchers from the University of Sydney found that junk food brands are using social media to target young people.

“Adolescents and young people are engaging with brands like Dominos, Slurpee and Skittles on Facebook on a near-daily basis,” lead author Dr. Becky Freeman said in a statement.

When kids actively engage with junk food brands via social media, researchers say the ripple effect can be huge.

“Any activity that users engage with on brand pages can appear in the news feeds of their friends, so marketing messages quickly amplify across social networks,” Freeman said in the statement.

For the study, which focused on Australian Facebook users, Freeman and her team analyzed each brand page based on its marketing techniques, follower engagement, and marketing reach of messages that were posted. The most effective marketing strategies involved competitions and giveaways, researchers say.

The University of Sydney study isn’t the first to suggest a negative link between social media use and youngsters. According to a 2011 Pew Center survey, 15 percent of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 reported having been harassed on a social networking site.

And teens don’t stand alone. A 2014 report in Psychology Today suggests that Facebook poses a number of mental healthy threats. Jealousy, envy, and feelings of not being good enough are all on the list. Psychology Today also reports that popular social media sites can be highly addictive. In fact, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) now includes sections to gauge Internet addiction.

The new University of Sydney study now points to a potential link between social media and childhood obesity.

On the flip side, some experts say that Facebook might have positive effects on self-esteem and behavior. According to a 2013 University of Wisconsin-Madison study, when people spend five minutes looking at their own Facebook profiles, they experience a notable self-esteem boost.

Related Nutrition News

May 7, 2015
Walking

Walking for two minutes might improve mortality risk

May 7, 2015
March 2, 2015
Stress test

Treadmill test predicts 10-year mortality risk

March 2, 2015
October 22, 2014
Sugary soda is linked to many health issues.

Sugary soda linked to accelerated cell aging

October 22, 2014
June 13, 2014
Oatmeal has been shown to be more filling than cereal

Oatmeal for breakfast more filling than cereal

June 13, 2014
June 12, 2014
Fasting may improve immune system

Fasting may help repair damaged immune system

June 12, 2014
April 14, 2014
Fish oil supplements, which have lots of omega-3 fatty acids

Study shows not all fish oils created equal

April 14, 2014
April 11, 2014
Junk food can contribute to obesity and diabetes

Can junk food make you lazy?

April 11, 2014
April 4, 2014
Child in cereal aisle picking out a box of cereal

Characters on cereal boxes boost sales

April 4, 2014
March 20, 2014
Friends eating healthy food outside together

Low-nutrient diet may lengthen lifespan, reduce diseases

March 20, 2014
January 28, 2014
Unhealthy diet

How unhealthy diets affect health

January 28, 2014
April 7, 2013
Mediterranean diet

Blood omega-3s found to cut mortality risk

April 7, 2013
April 6, 2013
Doctors performing surgery

Pre-surgery diet could affect recovery

April 6, 2013
March 25, 2013
Vitamin D

Vitamin D may boost immune system

March 25, 2013