Facebook may promote junk food
Social media sites, such as Facebook, may play a role in marketing unhealthy food to teens and young adults, according to a new study.
Scientists at the University of Sydney in Australia looked at the Facebook pages of 27 well-known food and beverage brands, including Coca-Cola, Subway and Slurpee. They analyzed the companies' marketing techniques, follower engagement and marketing messages. They also compared the data from healthy food companies with that from unhealthy food companies--defined in the study as those with energy-dense and nutrient-poor products.
The researchers found that the unhealthy food companies had higher engagement on their Facebook page from teenagers and young adults, compared to the social media sites of healthier food companies. They also found that the teenagers and young adults who had high engagement with the unhealthy food companies often shared the companies' content with their social network circles.
The study's findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, suggest that social media marketing techniques by unhealthy food companies are effective in targeting social media users, researchers said. They added that online advertising aimed at adolescents may be an important area of focus for future health policies.