UNE’s Michele Polacsek publishes article in American Journal of Preventative Medicine

Michele Polacsek is a co-author of a new article published in 'The BMJ'
Michele Polacsek, Ph.D., M.H.S.

Michele Polacsek, Ph.D., M.H.S., professor of public health and director of the Center for Excellence in Public Health at UNE, is the senior author on an article published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Dec. 10.

The article, “Unhealthy Food Marketing on Commercial Educational Websites: Remote Learning and Gaps in Regulation,” discusses the common use of “educational game” websites for remote learning and provides examples of food marketing — such as video ads for fast food children’s meals — that appear on educational game websites designed for children. 

Importantly, the article presents a letter the authors wrote about their observations to the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), the major industry self-regulatory group that oversees child-directed food and beverage marketing in the United States.

The commentary also highlights three critical issues: first, that childhood obesity rates are excessively high and increasing; second, that child-directed food marketing promotes highly caloric foods and drinks and sways children’s preferences and intake toward those marketed foods; and third, that teachers and parents are turning to high-quality, engaging websites and apps to supplement remote learning.

“Clearer guidance is needed to prevent food and drink marketing on websites and apps promoted as educational or used to supplement remote learning,” Polacsek said. “Such actions would complement other school wellness policies prohibiting food and drink marketing in schools. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is one party that could act on this issue.”