June 16, 2024


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Are TikTok Challenges Leading Kids to Eat More Junky Food?

Marketing campaigns for extremely processed food and non-alcoholic drink brand names on TikTok deliver billions of sights, foremost to a staggering functionality to have interaction and influence young children, in accordance to an observational research.

Looking at TikTok posts from the prime 16 “harmful” meals and consume brand names centered on world manufacturer share, a single hashtag challenge campaign — which encourages TikTok users to submit movies touting a certain solution — created wherever from 12.7 million to 107.9 billion views, described Kathryn Backholer, PhD, of the International Obesity Centre at Deakin University in Geelong, Australia, and colleagues in BMJ World-wide Health and fitness.

“By encouraging TikTok consumers to make and share movies that includes foods business branding and products and solutions, junk food stuff businesses are effectively turning TikTok end users into promotion producers and distributors,” Backholer explained to MedPage Currently in an e-mail. “While junk food providers advantage from this internet marketing, buyers acquire tiny to no reward and expose other people to even far more junk food promoting.”

Among the a sample of 626 model-similar video posts established by end users, 96% featured product branding, 68% bundled solution pictures, and 41% highlighted branded outcomes, together with stickers, filters, or special results showcasing the manufacturer.

Most (73%) portrayed the model positively, while 25% have been far more neutral or unclear. Only 3% portrayed the manufacturer in a destructive light.

This marketing and advertising get to, primarily based mainly on “unofficial model ambassadors” has the opportunity to affect younger customers, according to Backholer and colleagues. TikTok, which had more than 1 billion monthly buyers as of September 2021, supplies brands with a platform to engage with an in particular younger viewers, as “more than a third of its each day customers in the United states are reportedly aged 14 or younger,” the authors noted.

“The evidence is really obvious that food advertising boosts kids’ tastes and use for harmful food items, in the end major to bodyweight acquire and obesity,” Backholer reported in her e-mail. “The higher the attain of these marketing and advertising strategies, the more embedded junk food items internet marketing will become in our children’s day to day lives. We need to have to set wellness prior to revenue and provide our young children with an on the internet natural environment that is free from the advertising of harmful items.”

The important to this advertising approach is that TikTok enables models to directly inspire its end users to develop social media posts that market the brands’ content material for them, she pointed out. These campaigns are “highly orchestrated” to push customers to build manufacturer-advertising movies that often feature the company’s merchandise and logos, which lets for the brand names to be much more positively viewed by a user’s peers, she added.

These advertising methods are an evolution of brand name marketing, explained David Jernigan, PhD, of the Boston University College of General public Health, who has studied similar trends in liquor model promotion. He mentioned that social media has created a new system for marketing and advertising strategies.

“The hashtag problems, they are unbelievably powerful at stimulating engagement, and that’s what this review is demonstrating,” Jernigan told MedPage Nowadays. “Some types of engagement are far more harmful to the overall health of younger people today than many others.”

The conclude consequence of these campaigns is that young children will undertake an synthetic peer group centered on the imagery of the marketing and advertising — a view of the manufacturer that hardly ever displays the other side of consuming the item, such as body weight achieve, he included.

“It is so distinctive from classic marketing, simply because these platforms are all about stimulating engagement. Regular internet marketing was press internet marketing, the place we are hoping to push a information out to you and grab your awareness,” he described. “Social media is pull internet marketing, exactly where we are hoping to pull you in to engage in excess of and about all over again with the internet marketing messaging. It’s wholly distinctive and substantially additional highly effective simply because you have acquired an lively participant as opposed to a passive a single.”

For doctors, this sort of promoting generates a obstacle in communicating healthier life-style practices, he claimed. Medical professionals can check out to counteract these marketing strategies by emphasizing the health and fitness positive aspects of not consuming these merchandise and by reminding all patients that just due to the fact it is trending on TikTok doesn’t indicate that all people is having or consuming these solutions, he proposed.

The scientists pointed to a 2019 critique demonstrating that “couple of countries have statutory restrictions to protect kids from unhealthy food stuff advertising and marketing and limits on harmful food marketing and advertising on the online are unheard of.”

The U.K.’s Health and fitness and Care Monthly bill would ban “paid-for” on the internet advertising of unhealthy meals and beverages setting up Jan. 1, 2023 and would also “effectively prohibit in-application marketing and compensated-for adverts, like use of influencers, if meals or non-alcoholic drinks that are substantial in extra fat, sugar and/or salt are existing in the ad,” they pointed out.

To decide the reach of these campaigns, Backholer and crew concentrated on TikTok-verified accounts from the best 5 brands in various classes, these kinds of as candies, treats, and carbonated drinks, totaling the quantity of followers, video posts, and “likes” as of June 30, 2021. They then coded all video posts for branding kind, such as merchandise impression, celebrity influencer, or branded hashtag challenge. Ultimately, they collected the model, hashtag, obstacle description, and full sights, as very well as a sample of consumer-created posts for every single problem, to evaluate the in general arrive at of the strategies.

Extra exploration into the probable public health effect of these marketing techniques on major social media web-sites are desired, they mentioned.

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    Michael DePeau-Wilson is a reporter on MedPage Today’s business & investigative group. He handles psychiatry, extensive covid, and infectious diseases, amid other related U.S. medical news. Follow


Backholer and another co-writer have been funded via a Nationwide Heart Foundation Long term Chief Fellowship. The other co-authors documented no disclosures.