December 20, 2022
Before being proven as addictive and damaging, cigarettes gained the attention of children through relatable slogans, cartoon characters and attractive designs. Only with marketing regulation and research detailing the destructive effects of tobacco did smoking slowly become less attractive to its young audience. But the marketing of harmful substances to vulnerable populations hasn’t gone away entirely. Instead, it has switched focus to another product: ultra-processed foods, commonly known as “junk food.” Erica LaFata, PhD, an assistant research professor in the Center for Weight, Eating and Lifestyle Science (WELL Center), was recently awarded a grant to explore food addiction in relation to ultra-processed foods.