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Navigating Food Marketing Obesity Discourse: A need for Consumer Education

Public-private Initiatives in Education

School Health, Safety and Security

Author Information:

Chinyere R. Roberts
Godfrey A. Steele
UWI, St. Augustine, Trinidad


marketing communication, shopper marketing, healthful branding, obesity, consumer education

Presentation Information:

Presentation #: 8
Date: 3rd June, 2015
Time: 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Location: KHAIROON EAST (Room 1)


The prevalence of obesity in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) has been documented (CFNI, 2009; Ford & Mokdad, 2008) which has implications for population health, marketing communication (MC) practice and consumer education. As a stakeholder in the obesity discourse, the food industry?s MC practice has been scrutinized worldwide. Contemporary MC practice is an integrated, inter-textual and powerful discourse that may construct how we learn of and mitigate obesity. In our consumer society, consumer education is critical to navigating the discourse of MC practice. As one response to obesity, food marketers have employed healthful brand positioning and benefited from halo effects (Chandon, 2013) while research has identified consumer misconceptions among ?perceived healthfulness? of foods, appropriate portions size estimates, and perceived energy density (Faulkner et al, 2014). This study investigates the relationship between the MC of the food industry and obesity. For marketers, the in-store context is a strategic variable and able to affect shopping behaviour (Turley & Chebat, 2002); as such it provides the research setting. Fairclough?s (1995) framework for critical discourse analysis (CDA) provides the theoretical approach. In this study, Point of Purchase (POP) displays in a Trinidad supermarket outlet are selected as texts. This textual analysis describes the incidence and nature of healthfully positioned brands within select food categories, as well as the MC strategies employed by these brands at the POP. By examining the discursive relationship between the food industry?s POP texts, MC practice and obesity, this study provides interdisciplinary insight to rudiments of consumer education on obesity.