Start Date: December 2020

Organization: University of New England

Project Lead: Michele Polacsek, PhD

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The massive shift to learning on digital devices makes the need for effective policies to address digital food marketing more urgent than ever. The proposed study aims to develop and disseminate digital food marketing (DM) policy and practice guidelines for state education agencies and school districts to limit DM to elementary and middle school students. The project team will utilize the World Health Organization’s theoretical framework for digital food marketing to children which is premised upon the fundamental rights of children to be educated free from economic exploitation and exposure to harmful food marketing. The project has two aims: For Aim 1 Dr. Polacsek will conduct research, including up to 15 interviews, to better understand how the Covid-19 pandemic has influenced schools’ and students’ use of digital devices and online sites, and industry practices regarding marketing food and beverages online to students. For Aim 2 Dr. Polacsek will use findings from Aim 1, as well as findings from a national middle school survey, and a scan of the literature and legal research to develop recommendations and guidelines for state agencies and school districts to limit unwanted harmful food and beverage marketing to young students.

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