Children today are overweight and heading for early diabetes and an increased risk of heart disease. The vast majority of children are overweight simply because they eat too much sugary and fatty food. Governments have invested in well-meaning projects, which aimed to change children’s eating habits or encourage them to take more exercise and restrictions have been imposed for food and soft drink product advertisements to children in broadcast or non-broadcast media. However, they failed to curb the online advertising of junk foods to children.
Obese children or children of low media literacy (migrant children) are particularly vulnerable to advertising and need to be shielded against unhealthy influences by developing an understanding on how advertisements work and how they influence choice. The project partnership has produced an approach with the necessary tools to help those working with children reach out to them with a view to help them adopt a healthier lifestyle by identifying, understanding and repelling the messages behind online advertising disguised under games, social networks, cartoons, competitions, etc.
The main objectives have been achieved through the following activities leading to concrete results: – Elaborate and validate a didactical approach to train children on the identification and interpretation of online advertising which promotes the adoption of unhealthy nutritional choices. – Design and develop an Augmented Reality game based on the didactical approach which will be used by educators to train children to identify online advertising hidden behind the online activities they engage on. – Create and manage an educational website to inform about healthy diet and nutrition and to promote a healthier lifestyle to be used by professionals working with and for children. – Provide the necessary resources and tools about obesity and the dangers of online advertising (eg banner advertising, commercial/branded websites, ‘advergames’, branded downloads, data collection, e-cards & viral ads, advertising & social media and cell phone advertising)