Food and non-alcoholic beverage marketing in children and adults: A systematic review and activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging studies

Emma Boyland, Michelle Maden, Anna E. Coates, Travis D. Masterson, Monique C. Alblas, Amanda S. Bruce, Carl A. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Food marketing impacts the food behaviors of children and adults, but the underpinning neural mechanisms are poorly understood. This systematic review and meta-analysis pooled evidence from neuroimaging studies of exposure to food marketing stimuli (vs. control) on brain activations in children and adults to clarify regions associated with responding. Databases were searched for articles published to March 2022. Inclusion criteria included human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies employing a contrast between a food marketing stimulus and a non-food/non-exposure control, published in English in a peer-reviewed journal, reporting whole brain (not Region of Interest [ROI] only) co-ordinates. Eleven studies met inclusion criteria, of which eight were included in the quantitative synthesis (Activation Likelihood Estimation [ALE] meta-analysis). Food marketing exposures (vs. controls) produced greater activation in two clusters lying across the middle occipital gyrus, lingual gyrus, and cuneus (cluster 1), and the postcentral gyrus, precentral gyrus, and the inferior parietal lobule/supramarginal gyrus (cluster 2). Brain responses to food marketing are most consistently observed in areas relating to visual processing, attention, sensorimotor activity, and emotional processing. Subgroup analyses (e.g., adults vs. children) were not possible because of the paucity of data, and sensitivity analyses highlighted some instability in the clusters; therefore, conclusions remain tentative pending further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13643
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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