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An analysis of the content of food industry pledges on marketing to children

  • Corinna Hawkes (a1) and Jennifer L Harris (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 10 May 2011

To identify pledges made by the food industry to change food marketing to children worldwide, examine their content and discuss their potential to reduce the harmful effects of food marketing to children.


A search for pledges and specific commitments made by participating companies and a content analysis of their scope and criteria used to define the marketing covered or excluded.




Food industry pledges.


Between 2005 and 2009, the food industry developed thirteen pledges on food marketing to children, involving fifty-two food companies. Two of the pledges were global, two were regional and nine applied to specific countries. Three were specific to the soft drinks industry and to the fast-food industry, with the rest being food industry wide. Ten of the pledges required companies to publish individual commitments; a total of eighty-two such commitments were published, many of which extended beyond the minimum standards set in the pledges. All pledges included definitions of children and child-targeted media, as well as the communication channels and marketing techniques covered, and permitted companies to set criteria for foods that are exempted from any restrictions. There were many similarities between the pledges and individual commitments; however, there were also many differences.


The development of pledges on food marketing to children in such a short span of time is impressive. However, limitations and inconsistencies in the pledges and commitments suggest that the food industry has a long way to go if its pledges are to comprehensively reduce the exposure and power of marketing to children.

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6.C Hawkes (2007) Regulating and litigating in the public interest: regulating food marketing to young people worldwide: trends and policy drivers. Am J Public Health 97, 19621973.

9.C Hawkes (2010) The worldwide battle against soft drinks in schools. Am J Prev Med 38, 456457.

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