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Research takes aim at social media influencers peddling unhealthy products


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The Austrian researchers analyzed the meals, snacks, and drinks that made an appearance in posts and videos by six of the most popular German-speaking influencers with teenagers aged 13-17 years, with a combined total of more than 35 million followers or subscribers.

They found that 75% of the featured food and drinks were high in salt, fat, or sugar and would not be permitted for marketing to children; and the majority were not clearly signed as adverts.

Chocolate and sweets were the most commonly featured products influencers posted about.


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Dr Maria Wakolbinger and Dr Eva Winzer, from the Medical University of Vienna, claimed the findings highlight the ‘urgent need for policies and effective regulation of influencer marketing to children’.

“How can we expect our children to eat healthily when content on social media is skewed to promote foods high in fat, salt, and sugar?”,asked Dr Wakolbinger. “Influencers have enormous power over what young people feel is relevant and appealing. Our findings suggest that most of the time, influencers are not flagging when their posts are adverts—it’s imperative governments take notice.”

Childhood obesity on the rise

Nearly one in five children or adolescents around the world are currently overweight or obese, according to WHO.

A new report by the WHO European Regional office claims Some 60% of European adults are overweight or obese, with nearly one in three children living with overweight or obesity.

In Germany, over 15% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 are overweight or obese, estimates Berlin’s Robert Koch Institute.

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