Social media food marketing to teenagers: tackling the ethical and methodological challenges of behavioural tracking for public health research


  • Dr Emma Boyland

    University of Liverpool

Project summary

Unhealthy food marketing detrimentally affects food preference, choice and intake in young people. Advertising on television has become increasingly regulated in recent years, but equivalent policy progress for social media marketing is impeded by a lack of understanding of the nature and impact of advertising on these platforms. 

Researcher access to behaviourally targeted, personalised digital marketing data is critical to inform regulatory action, but is methodologically challenging with major ethical implications. This project will identify and evaluate potential methodological solutions to the ethical challenge of understanding the prevalence, nature and impact of personalised unhealthy food marketing to adolescents through social media. 

The project will conduct focus groups with teenagers and parents to explore engagement with social media food marketing, and bring together experts and researchers from diverse disciplines for consultation.