July 10, 2019
Michele Polacsek, Ph.D., M.H.S., professor in the Public Health program, is first author on a research article that was recently published in the Journal of School Health.
The article, titled “Digital Food and Beverage Marketing Environments in a National Sample of Middle Schools: Implications for Policy and Practice,” reports the results of a national survey designed to understand the policy and practice environment of middle schools that allow food and beverage marketers access to students while at school and through school owned devices.
According to the article, a promising approach to influencing nutrition behavior is to limit food and beverage marketing to children. Children are a lucrative market, and schools are an effective setting in which to intervene. Previous studies have shown that marketing in schools is prevalent, but prior to this study, little was known about digital marketing (DM) to students in the school setting.
The study used an online survey to assess DM environments in a national sample of middle schools. Findings demonstrate that students are exposed to marketing through school devices. Gaps in school district, school, and classroom policy and practice lead to student exposure to food and beverage marketing.
Based on the study’s findings, schools can take steps to help safeguard students’ health and wellbeing by restricting harmful and unwanted food and beverage marketing through policies, such as those governing the use of school-issued electronic devices.