METHODS: The social media analytics site SocialBlade.com was used to identify the most popular YouTube videos (n = 250) targeting children. Ads encountered while viewing these videos were recorded and analyzed for type of product promoted and ad format (video vs. overlay). Food and beverage ads were further coded based on food category and persuasive marketing techniques used.
RESULTS: In total 187 ads were encountered in sampled videos. Food and beverage ads were the most common at 38% (n=71), among which 56.3% (n = 40) promoted noncore foods. Ads for noncore foods were more commonly delivered as video rather than overlay ads. Among ads promoting noncore foods, the most commonly employed persuasive marketing techniques found were taste appeal (42.3%), uniqueness/novelty (32.4%), the use of animation (22.5%), fun appeal (22.5%), use of promotional characters (15.5%), price (12.7%), and health and nutrition benefits (8.5%).
CONCLUSIONS: Similar to television, unhealthy food ads predominate in content aimed toward children on YouTube. Policies regulating food marketing to children need to be extended to cover online content in line with a rapidly-evolving digital media environment. Service providers of social media can play a part in limiting unhealthy food advertising to children.
METHODS AND RESULTS: The discussion ranged from examining scientific literature supporting the efficacy of established prebiotics, to the prospects for establishing health benefits associated with novel compounds, isolated from different sources.
CONCLUSIONS: While many promising candidate prebiotics from across the globe have been highlighted in preliminary research, there are a limited number with both demonstrated mechanism of action and defined health benefits as required to meet the prebiotic definition. Prebiotics are part of a food industry with increasing market sales, yet there are great disparities in regulations in different countries. Identification and commercialization of new prebiotics with unique health benefits means that regulation must improve and remain up-to-date so as not to risk stifling research with potential health benefits for humans and other animals.
SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF STUDY: This summary of the workshop discussions indicates potential avenues for expanding the range of prebiotic substrates, delivery methods to enhance health benefits for the end consumer and guidance to better elucidate their activities in human studies.