'Impulse Marketing' to Blame for Obesity
Marketers should be held accountable for the slick ways they entice people to consume unhealthy foods, researchers urge.
By Chris Kaiser, MedPage Today
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MONDAy, Oct. 15, 2012 (MedPage Today) —Strategically placing candy by the cash register "encourages spur-of-the-moment, emotion-related purchases" and should be considered a risk factor for chronic diseases and obesity, according to a perspective in the Oct. 11 issue of theNew England Journal of Medicine.
People who claim that impulse buying shows a lack self-control don't take into consideration the millions of dollars spent by marketers researching things like customer eye-tracking, for example, for ways to determine optimal placement and display of their products, noted Deborah A. Cohen, MD, of RAND Health in Santa Monica, and Susan H. Babey, PhD, of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research in Los Angeles.
In addition, people will consistently deny they are influenced by these marketing ploys, even though empirical evidence speaks to the contrary, they said.
Cohen and Babey suggested it is time to "identify which marketing strategies place people at risk or undermine their health, as well as to quantify the magnitude of risk." This knowledge should inform government regulations on design and placement of harmful foods, they added.
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