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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport eTheses
Title: Is the Emperor Naked? Rethinking approaches to responsible food marketing policy and research
Author(s): Cairns, Georgina Anne
Supervisor(s): Bauld, Linda
Keywords: food marketing
public health policy
macrolevel marketing
participatory research methods
policy development
dietary health
translational research
sociocultural determinants of food behaviours
third party standards
knowledge exchange
Issue Date: Mar-2016
Publisher: University of Stirling
Citation: Cairns G &Macdonald L (2016) ‘Stakeholder insights on the planning and development of an independent benchmark standard for responsible food marketing’ Evaluation and Program Planning 56: 109-120
Cairns G, De Andrade M & Landon J (2016) ‘Food marketing policy and standardisation: an exploratory study’ British Food Journal 118 (7): pp 1641-1664.
Cairns G, Angus K, Hastings G & Caraher M (2013) ‘Systematic reviews of the evidence on the nature, extent and effects of food marketing to children, a retrospective summary’ Appetite, 62, pp. 209-215.
Cairns G & Stead M (2009) ‘Nutrition communication, obesity and social marketing: works in progress’ Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 68 (1), pp. 11-16.
Cairns G (2013) ‘Evolutions in food marketing, quantifying the impact, and policy implications’ Appetite, 62, pp. 194-197.
Cairns G (2015) The impact of food and drink marketing on Scotland’s children and young people. (An analysis of food marketing impacts on youth for the Scottish Government) Available at
Abstract: The thesis aims to present a case for a rethinking of the paradigmatic frames underpinning food marketing control policy and research. In support of its contention, it reports on the methodological strategies, evidence outcomes and knowledge translation contributions of a series of research projects. The projects were commissioned by national and international policy makers during the period 2009-2015 in support of responsible food marketing policy development. They were conceptualised, developed and interpreted through participatory and iterative research planning processes. The research drew on theories and constructs from multiple disciplines. Public health, marketing and policy science contributed most, but information economics and management theories also informed research design and analysis and interpretation of findings. Its key generalizable findings can be summarised as follows: • The identification of a fragmented but convergent pool of evidence indicating contemporary food and beverage marketing is an interactive, dynamic phenomenon. • The identification of a fragmented but convergent pool of evidence demonstrating it significantly impacts sociocultural determinants of food behaviours. • The generation of evidence demonstrating a gap between the strategic aims of responsible marketing policy regimes and the inherent capacity of implemented interventions to constrain marketing’s food environment impacts. • The generation of evidence demonstrating that critical re-appraisal of food marketing policy research assumptions and preconceptions is a strategy supportive of policy innovation. • The generation of evidence that research intended to support real world multi-stakeholder policy development processes requires additional skills to those established and recognised as central to high quality research. These include the ability to engage with dynamic and politicised policy processes and their public communications challenges. • The generation of evidence that can inform future independent benchmark standard for responsible marketing development initiatives. • The generation of evidence that can inform future research on designing and developing policy that is ‘future proof’ and targets marketing’s sociocultural food environment impacts. Its most significant knowledge translation contributions have been: • Support for the WHO Set of Recommendations on the Marketing of Foods and Non-alcoholic Beverages to Children (subsequently endorsed at the 2010 World Health Assembly and the 2011 United Nations General Assembly). • Participatory research contributions to the Scottish Government’s responsible marketing standard development initiative (PAS2500). • Supporting the planning and development of the Scottish Government’s Supporting Healthy Choices Policy initiative. • Knowledge exchange with policy makers and stakeholders engaged in a scoping and prioritisation initiative commissioned by the United Kingdom’s Department of Health (An analysis of the regulatory and voluntary landscape concerning the marketing and promotion of food and drink to children). • Supporting responsible marketing policy agendas targeted to the engagement of a broad mix of stakeholders in innovative policy development processes. • Supporting policy makers’ efforts to increase popular support for stronger, more effective responsible marketing policy controls. The thesis therefore aims to present evidence that the programme of research presented here has made useful and original contributions to evidence and knowledge on contemporary food marketing and its impacts on food behaviours and the food environment. It aims to build on this by demonstrating how this evidence informed and supported policy development. Through this the thesis aims to support its case that a rethinking of food marketing policy research assumptions and conceptions can expand and enrich the evidence base as well as real world policy innovation.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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