Sociodemographic differences in self-reported exposure to high fat, salt and sugar food and drink advertising: a cross-sectional analysis of 2019 UK panel data
de Vocht, Frank
Objectives: To explore sociodemographic differences in exposure to advertising for foods and drinks high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) and whether exposure is associated with body mass index (BMI). Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: UK. Participants: 1552 adults recruited to the Kantar Fast Moving Consumer Goods panel for London and the North of England. Outcome measures: Self-reported advertising exposure stratified by product/service advertised (processed HFSS foods; sugary drinks; sugary cereals; sweet snacks; fast food or digital food delivery services) and advertising setting (traditional; digital; recreational; functional or transport); BMI and sociodemographic characteristics. Results: Overall, 84.7% of participants reported exposure to HFSS advertising in the past 7 days. Participants in the middle (vs high) socioeconomic group had higher odds of overall self-reported exposure (OR 1.48; 95% CI 1.06 to 2.07). Participants in the low (vs high) socioeconomic group had higher odds of reporting exposure to advertising for three of five product categories (ORs ranging from 1.41 to 1.67), advertising for digital food delivery services (OR 1.47; 95% CI 1.05 to 2.05), traditional advertising (OR 1.44; 95% CI 1.00 to 2.08) and digital advertising (OR 1.50; 95% CI 1.06 to 2.14). Younger adults (18–34 years vs ≥65 years) had higher odds of reporting exposure to advertising for digital food delivery services (OR 2.08; 95% CI 1.20 to 3.59), digital advertising (OR 3.93; 95% CI 2.18 to 7.08) and advertising across transport networks (OR 1.96; 95% CI 1.11 to 3.48). Exposure to advertising for digital food delivery services (OR 1.40; 95% CI 1.05 to 1.88), digital advertising (OR 1.80; 95% CI 1.33 to 2.44) and advertising in recreational environments (OR 1.46; 95% CI 1.02 to 2.09) was associated with increased odds of obesity. Conclusion: Exposure to less healthy product advertising was prevalent, with adults in lower socioeconomic groups and younger adults more likely to report exposure. Broader restrictions may be needed to reduce sociodemographic differences in exposure to less healthy product advertising.