John Osei Dankwa

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John Osei Dankwa is British-Ghanaian, Studying (Bsc honours) Media Technology at De Montfort University.



As part of the Tech3022 Advanced Social Media technology I undertook an observation into 'How food advertisement affects child obesity'. Child obesity has become a serious public health issue worldwide. It has been observed to be the major cause of increases in ill-health and infant mortality in the 21st century society. Notwithstanding the steady advancement made over the past century worlwide towards ensuring better Child health, Research into the 21st century on child health has come out with shocking explosion of an epidemic of childhood obesity. This epidemic occurs in younger children, both boys and girls, as well as adolescent teens, especially in the industrialsed countries. This happens across all socio-economic strata, and cuts across all ethnic groupings. It has been observed that there is a corelation between the obesity explosion in children and Food Advertising especially Junk food Adverts.


WHAT? The plan is to research in to how food advertisements have been affecting child obesity.The bases or reason for this research in particular is to find out how families are dealing with child obesity and also to educate them on how food advertisements plays a part in the eating habits of children.

WHERE? This will take place in the home of the participants where ethnographic research methods will be applied. The participants chosen will be family friends with children in that age bracket. This is will make the research more comfortable and run smoothly as they will be dealing with someone familiar to them.

WHEN? This will take place between 05/07/2015 to 20/07/2015

WHO? The participants will be a group of parents with children between the ages 8-12.The participants chosen will be family friends with children in that age bracket. This is will make the research more comfortable and run smoothly as they will be dealing with someone familiar to them.

HOW? The key process that will be used for this research or investigation will be interviews and observations. I will be interviewing the selected participating parents, I will be asking them a few questions that I have drawn up which will help sum up whether food advertisements really affects child obesity.I will also be observing the children at the peak times where they watch cartoons/kids programs that contains food advertising to see if they eat snacks while they watch TV and if so how much snacks do they consume?


With an online research into How food advertising affects child obesity, I found out that an increase in TV viewing time among children and young people contribute to the obesity epidemic among them. Children from a young age are influenced by what they see, so children with high levels of watching television are susceptible to food advertising for highly processed and energy densed products. Which results with them developing unhealthy dietary habits. A recent study was undertaken by the American Public Health where they compared television food advertising to children in several countries. They recorded programming for 2 weekdays and 2 weekend days between 6:00 and 22:00 for 3 channels that is mostly watched by children.The food advertisements were put in to two classifications Core ( nutrients dense,low in energy) and Noncore ( undesirable nutrients as define by dietary standrads). The results showed that food advertisements compsed of 11% to 29% of the advertisements. Noncore foods were featured in 53% to 87% of food advertisements. It also showed that noncore food advertising was higher during childrens peak viewing times. Concluding the study, it was confirmed that children are exposed to high volumes of television advertisng for unhealthy foods.This research tests also proves that exposure to such food advertising during television viewing triggers automatic snacking which is also a contributing factor to obesity.


1. How many Television programs does your child/children watch?

The children watch about 2 to 4 hours of televison a day in the weekdays when they get back from school and even more during the weekends.

2. Do they eat snacks during their television watching? If yes, what type of snacks do they prefer eating?

Yes, they do have some snacks in the middle of watching their television programs. They eat at times packaged sugar flavoured popcorn but mostly junk snacks from the fast food shops. Some of the children pile pressure to be provided with the same snacks being advertised.

3. If so how much snacks do they consume?

They consume a fair amount of snacks when watching TV eve thoughn it was observed that most of the snacks consumed have high percentage of calories.

4. Do you do any activities with your child/children to keep them active?

Yes we normally do physical activities such as going to the park or playing with the children in the back garden.

5. If so how many times a week do you do activities with your child/children ?

Parents:- This happens on the weekends when we can make time for it.

6. Apart from physical activities put in place to burn out some of the calories, what are the other measures being taken by parents to pressure food Manufacturing companies to cut down on their influences on the bad eating habits of children? Parents: Consultations with relevant Children Health watchers and various children Organisations are putting pressure on Fast Food Restaurants, Burger King and McDonalds to reduce or stop direct Advertising of food to children and to encourage serving healthy snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables.


The results of the observation showed that the children consumed some snacks with high calories when watching their television programs. They also consumed about 20% more when exposed to food advertisements automatically especially those with high calories. This proves that there is a link or corelation between the influence of food advertising and automatic bad eating behaviours in Children. It was also observed that parents have become equally concerned and have taken it up with the relevant governmental agencies and the Fast food Industry. It was realised that, in America it has let to the Fast food industry to undertake the task of re-regulating themselves by Launching the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI). This Initiative is to ensure that the Industry abide by their pledge to market "better and healthy foods" to Children.


To conclude this research I have come to the understanding that the obesity epidemic amongst children is due to the bombarding of junk food messages communicated to children through Food Advertising. An article in 'The Guardian' newspaper (18th Feb 2015), states that: “The food industry has a special interest in targeting children, and that not only can the companies influence children’s immediate dietary preferences, but they can also benefit from building taste preferences and brand loyalty early in life, which last into adulthood”. I also observed that lack of physical activities have also contributed to the Morbidity and children mortality rate as a result of obesity, arising out of consumption of junk food, the result of aggressive food adverts. It is very encouraging to observe that parents and children organisations are up in arms to force government and the fast food industry to arrest the situation. In response to the efforts of parents and other concerned organisations, there is a sign of relief that the fast food industries themselves have realised the worsening situation and have come up with measures to better their services and activities.

RECOMMENDATIONS I suggest that: -tougher controls and rules be put on to commercial companies advertising and marketing unhealthy foods and drinks, especially those directed at the youth. Food advertising on children's TV networks and third-party kid's websites should be limited to 'healthy kids' meals only. -Parents should monitor how much TV their children watch and educate them on the type of food healthier for them. -Parents should involve their wards in more physical activities to make them more active; for example, encouraging them to join sports clubs and going to the gyms and finally -Regulations should be put in place by the government to set age limits on marketing to youth through the social media and mobile devices.


Televisio n Food Advertising to Children: A Global Perspective (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 23 July 2015).

TV viewing and obesity in children and young people (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 23 July 2015).

Boseley, S. (2015) Obesity experts call for stricter rules on junk food ads targeted at children. Available at: (Accessed: 23 July 2015).

Gottesdiener, laura (2012) 7 Highly Disturbing Trends in Junk Food Advertising to Children. Available at: (Accessed: 27 July 2015).

(no date) Available at: (Accessed: 27 July 2015).