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Table of Contents Abstract..2 Introduction3 Background4 Food marketing and child obesity..5 Bases of Marketing and paradigm..

9 Customer Protection.10 Conclusion11 Reference list12

1. Abstract Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to show that marketers have not been the only contributor to child obesity in developing and developed countries. Design/Methodology/approach: The approach taken is an integrative analysis of existing literature and new cases. Findings: It was found that there is a negative relationship between obesity and income levels in the USA. Technological advances have been a large contributor to child obesity because of the introduction of advanced video games such as the Play Station 3 children refrain from participating in physical exercise. The USA, Canada and Australia have the highest obesity levels. China and Columbia have gone through a dietary transition which has greatly increased the level of obesity in the two countries especially child obesity. Factors such as economic development, poverty of time and industrialisation have contributed to increased levels of child obesity in developing countries. South Africa is not pressed by the issue of child obesity as it is not viewed as a problem in the country yet; however there are media reports that the issue is gaining momentum in the country and could pose a serious problem for South Africa because of its young population. Research Limitation/Implications: This research demonstrates that although marketers have a large influence over childrens buying behaviour on food products there are numerous other factors which contribute to child obesity and thus criticism should not only be given towards these food marketers but towards other external factors such as the government who should regulate food marketing to children on a stricter scale. Practical Implications: Marketers in the future will need to abide by the rules and regulations of food marketing to children. This is due to the fact that consumers are becoming more informed and governments of the world are acting on behalf of the people to stricter regulating food marketing to children. Companies will lose brand equity if consumers believe they are purposefully trying to sell them unhealthy food products. Keywords: USA, South Africa, Australia, Columbia, China, marketing strategy, income levels, obesity issues, consumer protection. Paper type: Research Paper

2. Introduction

Interpretivism can be defined as there being multiple realities in existence, all of which are valid, socially constructed and holistic. Every individual is different and has different points of view and behaviour (Kapelianis, 1999). This paper will be a literature review. The research method that will be adopted will be qualitative which means the research will involve an in depth understanding of human behaviour, and reasons behind various aspects of human behaviour. The information will be obtained from Journals, academic articles and reputable websites. The most critical problems related to food marketing involve marketing to children, false advertising, obesity, marketing unhealthy foods and lack of consumer education about safety (Linn, 2004). For example many consumers are not aware of how the foods they consume are produced which leads to a consumer base that does not understand the safety risks associated with the foods they consume (Worley, 2006). Obesity is also a critical issue because it now equals smoking as the leading cause of disease and death and because food marketing has played a significant role in rising obesity levels makes it one of its most critical problems to date (Seiders, 2006). There are various challenges in food marketing that marketers need to overcome which include: Following the basic ethical norms and values - marketers must meet organisational goals while abiding to applicable laws and regulations (Tamlurkar, 2006). This will automatically make them add value to their organizations and customers (Tamlurkar, 2006). Products should be made safer - the foods to be manufactured and marketed to the consumers should be lighter with minimum quantities of fat and calories (Tamlurkar, 2006). Food marketers should Use appropriate and ethical marketing strategies - the ethical and appropriate marketing strategies include packaging or serving the food in reasonable portion sizes without encouraging overeating that generally food marketers do to increase their product sale (Tamlurkar, 2006). The research question which emanates from the brief overview mentioned above is: Are food marketers and their roles in targeting children with food products absolutely responsible for the issue of child obesity in countries of the world? The research objectives will include determining: the issues of obesity, the factors that give rise to obesity and how consumers are protected from unethical food marketing practices. This research question will be answered

by evaluating studies done in three developed and three developing countries. Conclusions on these studies will then be reached; hence the research question answered.

3. Background Obesity is acknowledged as a major community health problem by the centres for ailment management and avoidance (Goel, 2006). Obesity has been a key contributor to the cause of death and the focal point of symptoms for various complicated diseases (Goel, 2006). The cause of the epidemic has been related to the dietary trends of the populations of most of the developed countries (Adler, 2009). The trend to consume high caloric foods on a daily bases is one of the main contributors causing citizens to become obese (Blomquist 2007; Bergstrm 2007). Other issues responsible for obesity are genetically oriented while others are due to access to foods that are unhealthy (Benac, 2010). General physical inactivity is also a significant cause of obesity where individuals spend the majority of their time in office desks and consume excessive fast foods due to the lack of time to prepare healthy meals (Benac, 2010); hence this has contributed to the rise in obesity levels in the general public of most developed countries. Convenience to order take-outs due to the relative worth of the foods has lead to an increased intake of snacks which are mostly unhealthy and thus contribute greatly to obesity levels (Berman, 2006). The most condemned factor responsible for obesity is the marketing trends of the foods by the players in the industry (Clifford, 2010). These marketers have come up with strategies that will make their products sell regardless of the potential health risks that they offer. Their tactics involve the use of false advertising (Clifford, 2010); hence the marketers create a positive image for their food product which is imprinted on the minds of the consumers.

They aim to lead consumers to perceive that purchasing their food product will give a positive consumption outcome to the consumer even though that this may not be the case (Clifford, 2010); thus will promote the sales of their food products. Marketers have also advertised an increase in the quantity of food offered to consumers (Clifford, 2010). They aim to attract customers who find that quantity is more preferred than quality and the purchase will also offer good value for money (Clifford, 2010). The food industry may fail also to provide dietary information or lack thereof on their products (Hawks, 2007); hence

customers wont know what they are consuming and consequently could expose themselves to the excessive intake of unhealthy foods.

Targeting various age groups is the main strategy of advertising and marketing of food products (Hawks, 2007); For instance they target teenagers by developing appealing advertisements which make it a fashion embraced by the youth to buy their products (Barkausen, 2010). Moreover, these industries also target children by exposing attractive and appealing advertising to them which will entice them to influence their parents to purchase these food products for them (Clifford, 2010); Marketers also use incentives like toys to further entice the children to influence their parents to buy these food products that have attracted them (Clifford, 2010).

4. Food marketing and Childhood Obesity Obesity can be defined as medical condition in which there is a build-up of excessive fats in the body of animals which may have an adverse effect on health which consequently can lead to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems (Hering 2009; Pritsker 2009; Gonchar 2009; Pillar 2009). The degree of obesity is measured using the body mass index where this is the result obtained from dividing the weight of a person by the height. Any ratio greater than thirty kilograms per meter squared will result in the person being considered obese (Hering 2009; Pritsker 2009; Gonchar 2009; Pillar 2009). From the marketers position of analysis, the strategy to target children is one of the most effective marketing strategies that can be implemented (Grier 2008; Kumanyika 2008). This is due to the fact that children have significant influence on their parents with regards to purchase behaviour (Grier 2008; Kumanyika 2008; Clifford, 2010). Children also offer a profitable customer life-value to the organisations that target children and thus it is in the interest of the marketers to retain their customer loyalty throughout the years (Grier 2008; Kumanyika 2008). This targeting strategy however has come under much criticism due to the fact that the children do not have the knowledge or understanding about their dietary needs; in addition there is poor regulation on food content which should be displayed on the labels of fast foods and vending machines (Goldring, 2008). Consequently, this exposes more children to unhealthy foods. These children are usually unaware of the health risks associated with the consumption of these high caloric foods (Grier 2008; Kumanyika 2008).

Food marketers have used advertising at times when children are idle at home. These marketers select a specific time of day when it is most probable that children will be exposed to these adverts (Clifford, 2010). Weekends are most favourable amongst food marketers as this is the time when children are usually exposed to television and for hours at a time (Grier 2008; Kumanyika 2008). Food marketers air commercials targeted at children with the aim of both attracting and appealing to them (Clifford, 2010). They use large colourful images with minimal wording to imprint the food product in the mind of their target audience (children in this case). Promotion companies have advised food industries to collaborate with major leisure industry players and toy makers to conduct extensive advertising campaigns to ensure that their products sell (Miljk 2006). This is a form of leveraging where marketers combine food products with well known toys. This has largely been seen with fast food companies such as MacDonalds where a happy meal is offered targeted at children thus with the aim of attracting and appealing to them (Miljk, 2006). These marketers believe that these children will influence their parents to act in the interests of the marketers and purchase the advertised food goods (Miljk, 2006).

Various researchers have studied obesity trends in countries where childhood obesity has been most predominant. Among the developed nations of the world, studies have shown that the United States of America, Canada and Australia suffer from the highest levels of obesity amongst the youth (Klein, 2004). Research has shown that this is the result of excessive consumption of junk foods and lack of physical exercise due to an increase in technological advances such as the play station 3 and computer gaming technology (Klein, 2004). This is the entertainment children indulge themselves in and consequently refrain from participating in any form of physical exercise, thus this contributes significantly to the obesity levels of children in these countries (Macdonald 1997; Reeder 1997; Chen 1997; Despr 1997).

A study which was conducted in the United States of America shows that there is a negative relationship between obesity and the income level of a family (Macdonald 1997; Reeder 1997; Chen 1997; Despr 1997). As the income level of a family increases, obesity decreases. Findings show that this is due to the fact that the American government subsidised its corn production, therefore corn was produced below the cost of production (Macdonald 1997; Reeder 1997; Chen 1997; Despr 1997). Cattle farmers, chicken farmers and pig farmers started feeding these animals corn in the slaughter houses due to corn being inexpensive and

thus aimed to make a higher profit from selling larger quantities at reduced prices. Major fast food companies such as MacDonalds buy this meat and redistribute it in the form of hamburgers etc. Corn, however is not meant to be fed to these animals (Macdonald 1997; Reeder 1997; Chen 1997; Despr 1997). Consequently people started becoming ill and in addition there was one recorded case of a childs death. Research shows that these food marketers fail to inform the public of the food content and what the animals were fed (Macdonald 1997; Reeder 1997; Chen 1997; Despr 1997).

Studies show that Food marketing aimed at children has increased dramatically in the USA, Canada and Australia over the last two decades. Marketers use aggressive and clever techniques to draw childrens awareness, manipulate their food choices, and influence parents to buy products that are high in fat, sodium and sugar (Swinburn 2003; Mackay 2009; Seiders 2004; Petty 2004). The bombardment of food marketing by businesses has created a severe information imbalance where messages to children to eat healthfully are very much outnumbered by messages from the industry to consume products of low dietary value (Petty 2004). This information imbalance is so large that it cant be solved merely by increasing the quantity of nutrition educational messages to children (Swinburn 2003). Government has a responsibility to confine activities that weaken parental authority and guard children from marketing practices that harm their health. This implies an important role for government in the area of food marketing to children. Studies conducted in the developing countries of Columbia and china shows findings that obesity affects twenty five to fifty percent of their populations. Findings identify a number of factors which have influenced the rising levels of obesity among children, including such diverse issues as an increase in the use of motorised transport when going to and from school, a reduction in the opportunities for recreational physical activity, the growth in the number of TV channels, the rising levels of promotion and marketing of energy-dense foods and larger portion sizes. (Najat 2005; Jalila 2005; Rachida 2005; Abdelatif 2005; Khalid 2005; Nina 2005; Benjamin 2005; Hassan 2005). Studies conducted in South Africa show findings that childhood obesity and the marketing of food is not currently seen as a real issue in the country even though rising local media reporting shows that the issue is slowly gaining momentum (Higgs-Kleyn 2000; Abratt 2000; Brewer 2000). The South African advertising industry measure up to the best in the

world and it make use of the full variety of techniques in promoting to children (Higgs-Kleyn 2000; Abratt 2000; Brewer 2000). Since 1969 the country has selected a chosen structure of self-regulation. The South African Advertising Standards Authority is accountable for the regulation of promotion within this self-regulatory framework. The authority runs with a Code of Advertising Practice, in which necessities for the protection of children are made. No consumer protest relating to food advertising targeting children have been received by the Advertising Standards Authority in recent years (Higgs-Kleyn 2000; Abratt 2000; Brewer 2000).

The relevance of these studies to South Africa is that although SA is still a developing country it is most urbanised country in Africa and consists of consumer groups with large spending power. South Africa also has a very young population with nearly fifty percent of the population under the age of twenty (Higgs-Kleyn 2000; Abratt 2000; Brewer 2000). Therefore this gives rise to the possibility that if marketers are successful in targeting the childrens market with their unhealthy fast foods it could lead to the countries level of child obesity to increase and face the same problems the USA, Canada and Australia are facing.

From the literature of these countries studied we can conclude that although marketers contribute to child obesity it is however not the sole cause of the epidemic as there are a number of other factors such as income levels, poverty of time in households, and technological advances in both developed and developing countries. Further conclusions are reached that obesity is more of a problem in the developed countries in the world such as the USA, Canada and Australia. The developing countries such as china and Columbia have undergone a transition in which their population is rapidly growing obese as a result of this dietary transition. Conclusions show that child obesity is not a problem for the country at present however there is evidence that child obesity may become a problem in the future.

5. Bases of marketing and paradigm A Subjective world paradigm rejects the existence of social reality in any concrete, verifiable sense. It is the product of the subjective experiences and inter-experiences of individuals and therefore marketing phenomena cannot be understood from the perspective of an external

observer but must be studied from the viewpoint of the participant. It incorporates the interpretivist and social constructionists approaches and adopts motivational and psychology based metaphor, irrational man, and language and text metaphor (Arndt, 1985)

Psychology can be defined as the discipline of mind and behaviour. Its instant goal is to understand behaviour and mental processes by researching and creating both general ideologies and precise cases (King, 2004).

The base and paradigm used is the psychological base and subjective world paradigm. They view the consumer as not being vulnerable. Marketing is human behaviour and psychology is the study of human behaviour thus psychology can aid marketers by being used in the understanding of purchase behaviours of consumers (Engelbrecht, 2011) The mission of any industry is to sell its products with the aim of maximizing profits thus the marketers must employ all the strategies possible to make sure their products get sold (Macfadden, 2006). The sale of unhealthy foods to children is a common issue amongst countries. These marketers base their argument on the presence of a free market and argue that their marketing practices do not undermine any laws which prohibit their form of marketing to children and allow the consumers to make an informed decision to purchase or refrain from purchasing the product (Macfadden, 2006). The marketers miss the fact that the market is comprised of children who are not in a position to formulate viable health choices for themselves (Macfadden, 2006).

The marketing trend to sell these products to this group of uninformed buyers has resulted in significant levels of obesity among children and thus continuous health problems amongst the youth arise. The relationship between food marketing, child obesity and the base and paradigm chosen is negative because marketers view children as opportunities to make money they contribute greatly to child obesity. They therefore have no regard for ethics. The government should play a more major role in the control of the foods that children consume to avoid the epidemic falling out of control.

The connection between the food marketing and the food products sold to children lies in the psychology of the consumers. The public is lead to believe that the products that they are

consuming are healthy through the industries use of false advertising. Children thus consume these foods from being manipulated by the marketer.

6.Customer protection The existence of the free market is what the promoters use to guard themselves from such food stuffs that are destructive to the general public mainly due to being high in cholesterol levels (Spier 2001; Stem 1971). The marketers view that the consumer has the capability to make a decision to purchase any product in the market and omit out those that he or she does not want. According to the base and paradigm chosen it is viewed that consumers should not be protected because they have the knowledge and capability of making informed decisions for themselves.

Consumers can be protected by advertising media which is enforced by law to publicize and inform the public about the effects of the foods that are on the market and so they can make informed decisions about the purchases they undertake (Cunningham, 1976). . Parents can make decisions for their children and so the child may be protected from false advertising (Linzer, 2007). The public can also be protected through a government regulation effort to ensure that the producers clearly show the contents of their foods they produce on the container, making sure that the contents are visible and understandable, thus the public will be able to see and understand what they are purchasing and if the item is unhealthy. The government can also limit the market to restrain the food marketers from targeting children who cannot make correct health choices for themselves (Cunningham, 1976). . This could involve the elimination of all junk foods from retailing technology in the school vicinity (Cunningham, 1976).

There are various laws from the customer act to protect the consumers in the republic such as the court infers the standards in the favour of the consumer in any case that the party might feel aggrieved. The court is given the authority to revise the contract of the manufacturer concerning all clients correlated terms (Cunningham, 1976). The conditions used by the manufacturer should be straightforward and comprehensible to the customers such that he is able to understand the substance of the products that they are retailing (Cunningham, 1976).


The consumer is allowed to receive his money back in the event that the contents advertised on the label are not what are contained in the product. The consumer is allowed to inspect the product and hence the law states that the contents of the good should be written down on the cover of the commodity and thus the consumer can exercise his right in the free market. The governments have enforced laws that limit the sale of unhealthy foods in the schools to trim down the spate of obesity among the youth in the nation. The law also encourages regular essential bodily exercises periods that make certain that the kids are in shape (Cunningham, 1976). The retailing machines are removed and the healthy foodstuff options have been applied and the use edification to teach the youth about the effects of the unhealthy foods and giving them information so as they make the right choice. The law which protect consumers in South Africa is known as the consumer protection act (CPA). The bill aims to update old laws, combine existing and new laws under a meaningful umbrella. Up until now a lot of the law referring to consumers has been buried in other legislation that actually refers to totally different issues (Engelbrecht, 2011).

6. Conclusion In any free market, customers are viewed by the marketer to be able to make decisions on the kind of products they want to consume using their own knowledge on the information given to them and are expected to be able to tell if consumption of the product will lead to a negative outcome and thus will believe that the consumer will not purchase it. Marketers have taken advantage of the situation by manipulating consumers to purchase their products which are unhealthy (Linzer, 2007). They do this by advertising their food products in such a way that it creates attraction and appeals to the consumer however they do not inform the consumer of the contents of the food and the way it was produced. Consumers buy these products and end up experiencing negative consumption outcomes. A number of factors have contributed to child obesity namely: Income levels, economic development, technological advancement, poverty of time in households and the most important factor being the clever marketing strategies of food businesses that target children. Thus we can conclude that marketers are not absolutely responsible for obesity in developed and developing countries. The use of false advertising and leveraging are some of the unethical techniques marketers use in order to influence children (Linzer, 2007)


Measures and regulations have to be implemented by the government in order to protect children who cannot make their own health choices in the free market against the marketers who target them with unhealthy goods (Cunningham, 1976). South Africa has implemented some restrictions on food marketing practices to ensure that the marketers do not exploit children or the general public by using psychology on the consumer to affect purchase behaviour. This will indirectly dampen the issue of obesity even though it is not a pressing issue in the country at the current moment. Proper health education to the youth will make sure that the generation ahead will make the right verdict in the future in the battle of customer protection against the marketers (Cunningham, 1976).

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