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Grant Details

Grant Number: 1R01CA248441-01A1 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Bragg, Marie
Organization: New York University School Of Medicine
Project Title: Examining the Mechanisms Underlying the Influence of Facebook Food Advertisements on Adolescents' Eating Behaviors: Randomized Controlled Trials
Fiscal Year: 2021


Abstract

Project Summary Poor diet and excess weight during adolescence predicts excess weight and diet-related cancers during adulthood, yet there is little research on the risk factors that contribute to weight gain among adolescents. The National Academy of Medicine identifies exposure to food advertisements (ads) as a major predictor of poor diet among children (<12 years of age) because studies have shown that children who are exposed to food ads consume more calories than children who are exposed to non-food ads. The few food ad studies that have included adolescents (13–17 years of age) found associations between self-reported exposure to television (TV) food ads and poor diet, but we do not know which mechanisms explain this relationship. It is also well established that food companies promote their least healthy products to Black consumers more than White consumers and perceive Black youth as trendsetters. But it is not known whether seeing racially congruent ads (i.e., the person in the ad and the viewer are the same race) places Black adolescents at higher risk of poor diet relative to Whites. Finally, most food ad research is based on TV ads, but food companies are increasingly targeting adolescents on social media. And no social media food ad studies have focused on racially targeted ads. Addressing these gaps is important because adolescence is a critical period for adopting nutritious eating habits that can prevent future diet-related cancers. The overall objective of our three studies is to identify the extent to which exposure to Facebook food ads increases the number of calories purchased and consumed by Black and White adolescents. Guided by strong preliminary data, we will test three aims: 1) To evaluate the extent to which exposure to racially congruent vs. incongruent Facebook food ads causes Black vs. White adolescents to purchase more calories for a snack; 2) To determine the extent to which exposure to many vs. few “likes” on Facebook food ads causes Black and White adolescents to purchase more calories for a snack; and 3) To test the degree to which visual attention to unhealthy foods, racially congruent people, and/or “likes” in Facebook ads explains the relationship between ad exposure and calorie intake. To address the first and second aims, we will conduct two randomized online experiments. Under the third aim, we will conduct a within-subjects lab study using eye-tracking technology. We hypothesize that exposure to racially congruent Facebook food ads will increase the number of calories purchased and consumed by adolescents. We also predict that Black adolescents who attend to Black people in food ads will consume more calories than those who attend to other ad features. This innovative work will examine actual purchases and caloric intake; use novel tools (e.g., Facebook “reaction” buttons) to examine ad preferences; and use a state-of-the-art eye-tracking computer with discreet cameras. The proposed research will increase our mechanistic knowledge of communication tools that influence adolescents' dietary behaviors and could inform cancer prevention interventions that aim to improve adolescents' diets using effective ad techniques.



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