Perspective: Michele Simon on Food Marketing

By WorldLink Staff | August 18, 2011 | Leave a Comment

A powerful force in the fight for good food, public health lawyer Michele Simon has been researching and writing about the food industry and food politics since 1996. In this Nourish Perspective, she explains why we should be skeptical about food marketing claims, and shares how we can help build a movement for policy change.

You can learn more about the influence of food marketing on Michele’s blog, Appetite for Profit. For more perspectives, check out Michael Pollan’s Supermarket Secrets and Nadine Burke on Fast Food and Health.


How does marketing influence what we eat?

Michele Simon: It’s quite simple. Food companies convince us to buy unhealthy foods with very sophisticated marketing plans that target specific populations, including youth. Companies want to get children hooked on their brands early so that they will win over life-long customers. The industry says we advocates have no “proof” that food marketing influences people’s eating habits, but if marketing didn’t work, why would food companies spend billions of dollars a year doing it?

What’s the connection between childhood obesity and food marketing?

Michele Simon: The research shows that children’s food choices are strongly impacted by the ads they see. Just think of how many young children beg their parents to go to fast food restaurants as a result of ads they see. Poor diet increases the risk of chronic illness, which we are seeing early signs of in children. It’s really not obesity per se that’s the problem; rather, it’s health problems like heart disease and diabetes.


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