Abstract: Assessing the Effect of an Advertising Literacy Intervention in Peruvian Schools

◆ Peter Busse, Universidad de Lima
◆ Lucila Rozas, Universidad de Lima

Because childhood obesity is a growing problem in Peru, children need to learn about the influence of food advertising, which tends to promote unhealthy products in Peru (Busse, 2018). Drawing on the conceptualization of advertising literacy –which involves conceptual advertising knowledge, attitudinal advertising literacy and advertising literacy performance (Rozendaal, Lapierre, Van Reijmersdal & Buijzen, 2011; Rozendaal, Opree & Buijzen, 2016)— and following a prior curriculum guided by this conceptualization (Nelson, 2015), we developed, implemented and tested the effect of an intervention aiming to empower children to mitigate the effect of food advertising in the context of Peru. An intervention was designed to develop the three dimensions of advertising literacy over four half-hour sessions. In the two intervention schools, experts trained teachers who, in turn, delivered the intervention to their students in the classroom over a period of one month. Teachers in the control school received a dossier with information about food advertising in Peru and the national Law regarding the promotion of healthy eating among children and adolescents. The evaluation followed a pre-post design for elementary students (two intervention schools; no comparison school) and a randomized control trial with two arms (two intervention schools; one comparison school) with pre-post measures for high-school students. The study took place between April and July 2019. Overall, results showed null effects on several of the outcome measures. Yet for elementary students, the intervention influenced items related to attitudes towards eating unhealthy foods and "Skepticism toward advertising " while, for high-school students, items related to "Understanding selling intent" and "Understanding persuasive intent." This paper discusses both the design and implementation process as well as the results of the evaluation of this intervention in the context of a low-and-middle income country such as Peru.