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Seiders and Petty – Obesity and the role of food marketing

Seiders, K., and Petty, R.D. “Obesity and the role of food marketing: A policy analysis of issues and remedies.” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 23 (2004): 153-169.

Key Words: food marketing, obesity, marketing, public health epidemic, and market failures.

In this article, Seiders and Petty researched the major health threats associated with obesity and how that it increases the complexity between food marketing and public policy.  Seiders and Petty argue that the influences of food marketing practices are heavily debated when associated with obesity.  They both discuss the theory and research found from a variety of disciplines and observes the validity of the criticism and need for policy actions.

Seiders and Petty begin by reviewing the food industry marketing practices and dividing them into four categories: product formulation and package size; nutrition disclosure; advertising and promotion; and product distribution.  Some of the topics discussed within these categories are controversial practices like product supersizing, vending machine and low nutritional value foods in schools, lack of nutritional disclosure in restaurants, fast food restaurants, and food advertisements and promotions targeted towards children.  The influence of food industry marketing on the obesity epidemic has not been well examined by marketers.  Seiders and Petty address the importance that it is critical that marketers be involved in how the food industry is negatively affecting consumers.

They then identify the four types of market failures.  These failures cause unhealthy food choices and contribute to signs of obesity.  In addition to these market failures, they discuss the role and effectiveness of policies.  As a result, Seiders and Petty incorporate different remedies that have been known to reduce obesity costs.  In a data table they review the goals, benefits, evidence, limitations of each remedy.

In conclusion, Seiders and Petty assert that obesity and the role of food marketing is an important issue that needs to be addressed.  Their study provides an agenda for further research.  This agenda is designed to address knowledge gaps that represent obstacles to effective public policy decisions.

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