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ERIC Number: ED544262
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Apr
Pages: 59
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Promoting Consumption at School. Health Threats Associated with School House Commercialism--The Fifteenth Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercializing Trends: 2011-2012
Molnar, Alex; Boninger, Faith; Harris, Michael D.; Libby, Ken M.; Fogarty, Joseph
National Education Policy Center
Many states and communities are in chronic fiscal crisis. It is no surprise that beleaguered educators are ever more open to offers of corporate "partnerships" that might bring in additional money for their schools. Unfortunately, many school-business partnerships are little more than marketing arrangements that have few benefits for schools while carrying with them the potential to harm children in a variety of ways. "The 2011-2012 Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercializing Trends" is the third in a series of annual reports to examine how commercializing activities in schools threaten children's well-being. Prior reports examined psychological threats (2010) and educational threats (2011). The focus of this report is the health threats posed by the marketing of food and beverage products in school. The incidence of childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years, and its consequent illnesses threaten to reduce both the length and the quality of life. Although no specific food nor any one marketing campaign has been causally linked to higher rates of obesity, research indicates that food advertising does influence children's food preferences, their purchase requests, and their eating behavior. In schools, this means that advertising for foods of minimal nutritional value or for foods high in fat, sugar, and/or salt is designed to convince children to like and want more and more of a product that is unhealthy when consumed to excess. Food products are heavily marketed in schools by appropriating space on school property, exclusive marketing agreements with schools and districts, digital marketing, fundraising, school program sponsorships, incentive programs, and supplementary educational materials. The health threat posed by an advertised food is tied to its nutritional quality, but psychological and/or educational threats are often also implicated. Commercializing activities in schools may, therefore, be problematic, even if a specific advertised product is not a threat to children's health. Thus, the potential threat to children posed by marketing in schools is great enough that we believe the default assumption for schools, districts, and state and federal policymakers must be that marketing in schools is harmful unless explicitly proven otherwise. The recommendation is that policymakers should prohibit advertising in schools unless the school provides compelling evidence that their intended advertising program causes no harm to children. Appended is a list of websites associated with advertising and marketing, health care and nutrition, government policy, education, and academic research which were regularly reviewed for material relevant to this report. A list of 193 notes and references is also provided. (Contains 1 figure.) [The annual report on Schoolhouse Commercialism trends is produced by the Commercialism in Education Research Unit.]
National Education Policy Center. School of Education 249 UCB University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309. Tel: 303-735-5290; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: Consumers Union
Authoring Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder, National Education Policy Center