Implicit messages regarding unhealthy foodstuffs in chinese television advertisements: Increasing the risk of obesity

Angela Chang, Peter J. Schulz, Tony Schirato, Brian J. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Previous studies indicated that television (TV) advertising is associated with higher rates of obesity. The rate of obesity and overweight continues to rise in mainland China, bringing into question whether TV advertising to young audiences might be partly to blame. This study investigated messaging delivered through TV advertisements regarding healthy and unhealthy foodstuffs. A total of 42 major food brands and 480 advertisements were analysed for content in this study. The results showed that the majority of TV spots advertised products with poor nutritional content and had a potential to mislead audiences concerning products’ actual nutritional value. The tactics of repetition and appeals of premium offerings on food brands have a potential to influence the purchase intentions. Additional qualitative observation involving the social bond, social context and cultural factors pertaining to mood alterations were highlighted. The discussion addressed product attributes reflected by culture and the implicit messages of marketing claims may increase the risk of obesity. Thus, public health policymakers and researchers were encouraged to act urgently to evaluate the obesity risks of unhealthy food advertised in the media and to support healthy foods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number70
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 4 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Advertising appeals
  • Advertising tactics
  • Big foods
  • Branding strategy
  • Food marketing
  • Global brands
  • Obesity


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