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Food marketing, policy and children’s health

Research into the effects of marketing and food packaging on the diets of children is making an impact around the world


By Faculty of Arts
May 2, 2017

For Charlene Elliott, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to food packaging and the marketing of food to children. From nutritional quality, nutritional appeals and symbolic marketing of food, to consumer perceptions and actions, her research addresses the impact of different types of marketing appeals to dietary habits, the promotion of health and the prevention of disease.

Elliott is the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Canada Research Chair in Food Marketing, Policy and Children’s Health and a professor in the Department of Communication, Media and Film.

Initially intrigued by the reframing of food as a form of entertainment, Elliott’s research has expanded significantly. Current projects include documenting the transformation of food marketing to children over time, exploring teenager responses to food marketing messages, analyzing the promotion of fruits and vegetables using “Big Food” marketing techniques and assessing the possibilities of media literacy as a strategy for combating food marketing messages. Elliott has also developed evidence-based Media Literacy & Food Marketing lesson plans (based on the findings of her research grants) that are being taught in schools in three provinces in partnership with a not-for-profit organization.

With a joint appointment to the Faculty of Kinesiology, Elliott is known for her interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration.

Her advocacy in food marketing and packaging has resulted in invitations to contribute to policy by Health Canada, the World Health Organization, advocacy groups, and others, and has initiated new areas of inquiry related to baby foods, food packaging and food literacy.

Elliott’s work in improving the quality of life for Canadians was recently recognized with our country’s highest scholarly honours – in 2016 she was inducted as a member of the College of New Scholars, Artists and the Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada.

Elliott is but one example of the critical and creative research, teaching and learning happening in the Faculty of Arts.

Energizing Arts 2017-22

Energizing Arts sets the direction for the Faculty of Arts over the next five years to engage, inspire and discover the world and its relationship to it through critical inquiry, creative practice and collaborative exploration.

The strategy is built upon three priorities:

  • Critical and creative research, teaching and learning;
  • Engaging communities; and
  • Citizenship, diversity and inclusion.

For more information, please email artsdean@ucalgary.ca.