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Online games new marketing tool for unhealthy foods
Date:6/3/2010

eb pages and 247 advergames, they found:

. Close to one-third of the advertising that included websites was for food. . The most frequently used strategy to encourage ongoing and return website visits was advergames -- 84 percent of the websites assessed included online games. . Every advergame included at least one brand identifier, with logos being the most frequent and direct product representation being the second-most frequent. . On average, only one nutrition or physical activity message appeared for every 45 brand identifiers.

"I was astounded by how often logos or actual food products were integrated into the games," said Culp. "For example, some games used candy or cereal as game pieces. In others, a special code that was only available by purchasing a particular cereal was necessary to advance to higher game levels."

Culp also was disappointed that the sites often did not include information to promote health, including nutrition facts about the product or prominent placement of links to the food guide pyramid, daily physical activity recommendations or similar resources.

"There was little messaging about healthier options or even the nutritional content -- like fat and sugar values -- of the product being advertised. If it was included, it was often buried in the site," she said. "Advergames are clearly a means of casting food with few health benefits in a positive way and potentially priming kids for a lifetime of unhealthy food preferences."

As the result of their current Internet study and prior outcomes related to television advertising, Culp and Cassady hope food companies will develop and adhere to uniform guidelines for advertising their products to children. Currently, however, there is no agreed-upon framework for this goal. The research team appreciates the standards in first lady Michelle Obama's "Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation" report. In the absence of volun
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Contact: Karen Finney
karen.finney@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9064
University of California - Davis - Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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