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Abstract

The health implications and costs associated with increasing levels of obesity are a widespread global issue. In the United States, there is a growing interest in identifying methods to reduce obesity levels. Particular focus has been given to advertisements for unhealthy foods, especially advertisements directed at young children as a number of studies conclude that advertising influences the perceptions, requests and short-term consumption behavior of young children. Recently, several of the largest global food producers began voluntary selfregulation of their advertisements to children under the age of 12. The group of participants includes the two largest carbonated soft drink (CSD) manufacturers. We estimate the demand for CSDs in the US over 15 markets using a large, detailed household level data set. We test to see if the advertising restriction had any immediate impact on CSD purchases. Contrary to expectations, we find that purchases increase for several of the CSD brands. This can be explained to some extent by a reduction in prices, however there are likely marketing factors not observed in our analysis that impact purchases as well. While these advertising restrictions do not appear to reduce purchases, there may be other long term benefits associated with reducing children’s exposure to advertising to unhealthy food products.

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