News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Wearable cameras will record the marketing of ‘healthy’ food

Wearable cameras will record the marketing of ‘healthy’ food to children

Children will wear small portable cameras on their clothes as part of a new University of Auckland study that will investigate how the marketing of healthy products and lifestyles affects children’s everyday lives.

Dr Darren Powell of the University’s Faculty of Education and Social Work has received a $300,000 Marsden Fund ‘Fast Start’ grant to research how children understand and experience ‘healthy’ marketing practices.

The study, called “Consuming kids: The impact of marketing 'health' to children”, will provide the first in-depth conceptualisation and analysis of how marketing healthy products and lifestyles shapes children’s health knowledge, health practices and health identities.

“Global concerns about childhood obesity and the negative effects of marketing junk food have created a new opportunity for corporations: the marketing of healthy products and lifestyles to children,” Dr Powell says.

“Whilst there is a large body of literature examining the relationship between unhealthy food marketing and childhood obesity, relatively little is known about how the rapid turn to marketing healthy products and lifestyles influences children.

“Indeed one of the main reasons I wanted to do this research is a concern that some of the marketing messages that children receive about how to be healthy, especially those relating to bodies, may actually be rather unhealthy for children,” Dr Powell says.

This research includes a critical examination of the ‘Coca-Colonisation’ of health: how ‘other’ ways of understanding health, such as indigenous knowledge, may be created, maintained, or silenced by contemporary marketing policies and practices.

Sixteen children, aged 7-9 years, from two schools, will use wearable cameras to create visual images at diverse sites, including homes, schools, and sports clubs. These images will be analysed with the children in order to get rich descriptions and original insights into the attempts of corporations and their various partners to market the concept of health to children in Aotearoa.

When Dr Powell was told he had been awarded a Marsden Grant, his first thought was of the moment he conceived the project, a few years ago when he was watching a children’s TV programme with his son, Harvey.

“An advertisement appeared for a certain fast restaurant, promoting wraps, sliced apples, and bottled water, rather than burgers,” says Dr Powell.

“And I immediately thought: this still isn’t right. And how will this shape Harvey’s knowledge of not just health and food, but of what he called ‘the place with the yellow ‘M’?”

He was also relieved that the support he had received from his colleagues in applying for this grant had not been in vain.

“I was truly humbled by the amount of time that colleagues from the faculty and beyond gave to help support this project, in particular Nic Mason, Jay Marlowe and Katie Fitzpatrick.

“I’m just glad that others also believed this type of research is valuable and that I can make an important contribution to develop our understanding of how marketing impacts children’s thoughts, actions, and identities.”

Dr Powell, a lecturer in Curriculum and Pedagogy, joined the university in 2014 after several years as a primary school teacher.

Dr Powell's current research focuses on the childhood obesity 'epidemic' and the ways in which corporations (especially those of the food and drink industry) and charities are now re-inventing themselves as 'part of the solution'. This includes an investigation of how schools, teachers and children are drawn into the global war on obesity, and how corporations are using concerns about children's lifestyles to promote themselves as healthy, philanthropic and educational.

His research has interrogated the role of corporations - mostly food companies - and charities in schools. This includes a critical analysis of the various healthy lifestyles education resources and programmes that are provided free to primary schools and the ways in which certain notions of health are reproduced in ways that align with the private sector’s best interests, but not necessarily the children's.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

Howard Davis Article: A Musical Axis - Brahms, Wagner, Sibelius

Brahms' warm and exquisitely subtle Symphony No. 3 in F major, Wagner's irrepressibly sentimental symphonic poem Siegfried Idyll, and Sibelius' chilling and immensely challenging Violin Concerto in D minor exemplify distinct stages of development in a tangled and convoluted series of skirmishes that came to define subsequent disputes about the nature of post-Romantic orchestral writing well into the following century. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: A Pale Ghost Writer

Reviewed by Ruth Brassington, Richard Flanagan's new novel is about a novelist hastily ghost-writing the biography of a crook about to go to trial. The reader is kept on a cliff-edge, as the narrator tries to get blood out of his stone man. More>>

Negotiations Begin: Equal Conditions For Men & Women In Professional Football

The trade union representing New Zealand's professional footballers has initiated bargaining for an agreement securing equal terms and conditions for men and women. If negotiated, it will be the first agreement of its kind in the world. More>>


New Zealand Wars Commemoration: Witi Ihimaera's Sleeps Standing Moetū

The second of several articles to mark Rā Maumahara, remembering the New Zealand Land Wars. The first was a Q&A with Vincent O’Malley, author of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000. More>>


Howard Davis Review: Conflict & Resistance - Ria Hall's Rules of Engagement

From the aftermath of war through colonisation to her own personal convictions, Hall's new CD addresses current issues and social problems on multiple levels, confirming her position as a polemical and preeminent voice on the indigenous NZ music scene. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland