Nutri-Medias is a very practical, very hands-on tool, which can be used by a facilitator during an awareness-raising or training session.
The tool was developed as part of COFACE’s cooperation and membership of the EU’s Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. The European Platform is a response to the alarming rise in childhood obesity first observed some years ago, which now affects about 24% of Europe’s 6-to-9-year-olds. DG SANCO has responded to this challenge with comprehensive policies covering many obesity-related factors: promoting physical activity, reformulating foods, better marketing oversight, ramping up information and awareness campaigns, etc.
The decision to focus the Nutri-Medias tool on the existing link between advertising, media and food and consumption has a scientific bases, as it was clearly shown in a number of research studies, –a link clarified by CNRS researcher Monique Dagnaud in her talk during the Paris launch of the tool.
Children play a key role in family purchasing decisions, including food which is one reason why they are targeted by advertising. Adverts -and the media generally- are tailored to target and get through to children better. Adverts often turn the hierarchy of family relationships on their head, portraying children as more “savvy” than their parents. The impact advertising has on children’s behaviour has been shown in a few independent studies, but these are outnumbered by business-funded ones which have potential conflicts of interest.
As well as traditional media like TV and billboards, advertising and marketing have swamped the Internet. Marketing is increasingly personalized and interactive, based on children’s online activities. Adverts are all over the Internet –on online games, social networks, streaming sites, etc.
It is a monumental challenge! The health risks of a poor diet are well-established. Something has to be done. As a European network of family organisations, COFACE is hoping to use this tool to reach out directly to parents, encouraging them to sit down at the computer/TV with their children, and sharpen their critical thinking by revealing the marketing mechanisms and techniques used to influence the way they eat.