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JMIR Public Health Surveill ; 7(3): e25202, 2021 03 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2197886


BACKGROUND: Emerging evidence demonstrates that obesity is associated with a higher risk of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Excessive alcohol consumption and "comfort eating" as coping mechanisms during times of high stress have been shown to further exacerbate mental and physical ill-health. Global examples suggest that unhealthy food and alcohol brands and companies are using the COVID-19 pandemic to further market their products. However, there has been no systematic, in-depth analysis of how "Big Food" and "Big Alcohol" are capitalizing on the COVID-19 pandemic to market their products and brands. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to quantify the extent and nature of online marketing by alcohol and unhealthy food and beverage companies during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. METHODS: We conducted a content analysis of all COVID-19-related social media posts made by leading alcohol and unhealthy food and beverage brands (n=42) and their parent companies (n=12) over a 4-month period (February to May 2020) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. RESULTS: Nearly 80% of included brands and all parent companies posted content related to COVID-19 during the 4-month period. Quick service restaurants (QSRs), food and alcohol delivery companies, alcohol brands, and bottle shops were the most active in posting COVID-19-related content. The most common themes for COVID-19-related marketing were isolation activities and community support. Promotion of hygiene and home delivery was also common, particularly for QSRs and alcohol and food delivery companies. Parent companies were more likely to post about corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, such as donations of money and products, and to offer health advice. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to show that Big Food and Big Alcohol are incessantly marketing their products and brands on social media platforms using themes related to COVID-19, such as isolation activities and community support. Parent companies are frequently posting about CSR initiatives, such as donations of money and products, thereby creating a fertile environment to loosen current regulation or resist further industry regulation. "COVID-washing" by large alcohol brands, food and beverage brands, and their parent companies is both common and concerning. The need for comprehensive regulations to restrict unhealthy food and alcohol marketing, as recommended by the World Health Organization, is particularly acute in the COVID-19 context and is urgently required to "build back better" in a post-COVID-19 world.

COVID-19 , Food Industry , Marketing/methods , Marketing/statistics & numerical data , Social Media/statistics & numerical data , Alcoholic Beverages/statistics & numerical data , Australia/epidemiology , Food/statistics & numerical data , Humans
Public Health Nutr ; 25(3): 528-537, 2022 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1740384


OBJECTIVE: To compare the cost and affordability of two fortnightly diets (representing the national guidelines and current consumption) across areas containing Australia's major supermarkets. DESIGN: The Healthy Diets Australian Standardised Affordability and Pricing protocol was used. SETTING: Price data were collected online and via phone calls in fifty-one urban and inner regional locations across Australia. PARTICIPANTS: Not applicable. RESULTS: Healthy diets were consistently less expensive than current (unhealthy) diets. Nonetheless, healthy diets would cost 25-26 % of the disposable income for low-income households and 30-31 % of the poverty line. Differences in gross incomes (the most available income metric which overrepresents disposable income) drove national variations in diet affordability (from 14 % of the median gross household incomes in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory to 25 % of the median gross household income in Tasmania). CONCLUSIONS: In Australian cities and regional areas with major supermarkets, access to affordable diets remains problematic for families receiving low incomes. These findings are likely to be exacerbated in outer regional and remote areas (not included in this study). To make healthy diets economically appealing, policies that reduce the (absolute and relative) costs of healthy diets and increase the incomes of Australians living in poverty are required.

Diet, Healthy , Diet , Australia , Costs and Cost Analysis , Humans , Income