August 16, 2010

Spotlight on marketers as obesity rises in China and India

Posted by: in North America



Last month, a group of food and beverage heavyweights—including Nestlé, General Mills, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo—signed the “India Pledge,” agreeing to “a high level of social responsibility” in marketing to children and to “help promote healthier dietary choices.” While brands in this category have pledged to limit marketing to kids in the EU, North America and some key developing markets (including Brazil and Thailand), such initiatives had not previously been seen in the huge growth markets of India and China. But marketers will come under increasing pressure as rapid development and globalization spur sharp rises in obesity.

China_cottoncandyA recent study from India’s Registrar General found that “obesity-related diseases have joined malnutrition as leading causes of death,” according to the Voice of America (which points to the dating site as one sign of the times). It’s not only affluent consumers who are getting bigger but many of the poor, who are eating more cheap junk food. In China, Ministry of Education figures show that 16 percent of youth from age 7 to 22 are obese, a number that’s rising by 8 percent a year, according to an Ad Age report by Matthew Crabbe and Paul French, authors of Fat China: How Expanding Waistlines Are Changing a Nation. While advertising to kids doesn’t help, various social factors are exacerbating the problem, such as the traditional notion that a plump kid signals “health and future prosperity.”

Without more voluntary efforts like the India Pledge, marketers will be subject to legislative rules. In the U.S., the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which recently passed unanimously in the Senate, would require food in schools—including that sold in vending machines—to meet nutrition guidelines. With First Lady Michelle Obama embracing the cause of childhood obesity, more restrictions may follow.

Photo credit:

Photo credit: Ryan McFarland

3 Responses to "Spotlight on marketers as obesity rises in China and India"

1 | Ads of China // 中国广告

August 19th, 2010 at 1:25 am


I greatly look forward to seeing what social marketing campaigns come out of China. It will make an interesting comparison with those currently created for Western consumers.

Ads of China // 中国广告

2 | Jessica Vaughn

August 30th, 2010 at 6:35 pm


It seems junk food marketers may soon be getting a taste of their own medicine from baby carrot farmers who will be marketing carrots as fun, sexy and hip this fall.

3 | Vannya Martinez Becerra

September 9th, 2010 at 12:02 pm


Obesity problem is huge in Mexico (the problem is so huge that government has declared itself incapable of solving the problem). That’s why, recently, a new law was formulated to prohibit the sale of snacks (chips, cup cakes, etc) in schools unless they provide less than 450 calories per 100 grams; because of that different companies will reduce their pack sizes (from 40 or 50 grams to just 20) so they still be allowed to sell their products inside of schools while contributing to fight the obesity problem in children. This is just the beginning of many measures that will start happening while trying to solve this public health problem.

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