Parents’ Perceptions of Children’s Exposure to Unhealthy Food Marketing: a Narrative Review of the Literature

Publication Name

Current Nutrition Reports


Purpose of Review: A key driver of unhealthy diets in children is the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages. Attempts to regulate children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing through government-led policies are challenged by commercial interests. Parents shoulder the responsibility of counteracting the effects of omnipresent unhealthy food marketing that children are exposed to within the food environment. In this narrative review we aimed to synthesise the evidence over the last 10 years on parents' perceptions of children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing and parents support for policies to restrict this marketing. Recent Findings: The evidence indicates that unhealthy food marketing leads parents to feel undermined in their ability to provide healthy foods to their children. Despite this concern, parents tend to underestimate the levels of exposure to, and impacts of, unhealthy food marketing to their children, especially in the digital ecosystem. Summary: The voices and support of parents represent a significant opportunity to accelerate policy action on food marketing. Increasing awareness among parents and caregivers to the high levels and harmful impacts of children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing, focusing on their right not to be undermined by such action, may drive support for policy change. Further research is needed to understand parents’ attitudes and perceptions related to their children’s exposure to contemporary unhealthy food marketing, specifically in digital environments, and the perspectives of fathers and parents from low and middle-income countries.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

Heart Foundation



Link to publisher version (DOI)