Brian Young

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Brian Young is a Honorary University Fellow in the School of Psychology, University of Exeter.

  • PhD (HK)
  • BSc (Edin)

Biographical Information


Young has received grants from and produced reports for the Advertising Association, the Charities Aid Foundation and the Independent Television Commission (ITC) the predecessor of Ofcom.

Young's 1998 report ‘Emulation, Fears and Understanding: a review of recent research on children and television advertising, (March 1998), produced for the ITC, was used by the Advertising Association in June 2008 in support of their submission to the Department for Children, Schools and Families(DCSF) consultation on the impact of the commercial world on childhood. [1]

Current Activities

Young is a member of the panel assessing the impact of the commercial world on children as part of The Children's Plan (DCSF), report due in March 2009. Also on the panel are David Buckingham (Chair) and Sonia Livingstone. [2]

In January 2009 the Advertising Association published their report entitled "Children's wellbeing in a commercial world". This report was produced for the panel of academics appointed by the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCFS) to examine the impacts of the commercial world on children's wellbeing. The report concluded that, " there was no evidence of a decline in children's overall wellbeing, nor that the net impact of the commercial world has been negative over the past fifteen years. Indeed it finds plenty of evidence that aspects of the commercial world enhance the wellbeing of children.". [3]


In 2003, the Food Advertising Unit (FAU) of the Advertising Association (AA) gave evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on Health in their investigation into obesity. In their evidence the FAU quoted Young as stating, “After a rigorous examination of the research literature we concluded that there is no serious and methodologically sound evidence that shows that food advertising leads to an increase in the consumption by children of whole categories of foods." [4]

Young made this statement about a report he had co-written in 1996 entitled "The role of Television Advertisng in Children's Food Choices". This report had been commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) the predecessor of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The report concluded, "There is no evidence to suggest that advertising is the principal influence on children’s eating behaviour. Indeed the opposite is likely to be true, in that advertising is just one influence among many factors and that the child herself also brings to the relationship a greater or lesser vulnerability to the messages contained within the advertisement.". [5]

In 2003 Young undertook research into Food Advertising and Obesity. This research was commissioned by the Advertising Education Forum (AEF) and sponsored by the European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA). The conclusion of the report was that "there is no evidence to show a direct causal relationship between food advertising and obesity levels. Some research has been conducted demonstrating that extended exposure to television (and therefore hours spent sitting, rather than undertaking more physically rigorous activities) may increase the chances of obesity. There is, however, no research that demonstrates a link between exposure to advertising for certain types of foods, and an increase in consumption of those foods amongst adults and children. " [6]

In November 2001, Young attended the Food Advertising Unit's annual conference. The title of the conference was "Consumer Groups and Industry commit themselves to more and better dialogue". Adrian Furnham a fellow member of the Advertising Education Forum, academic forum also attended. During the debate Young outlined the multi-factorial nature of the problem of childhood obesity. He suggested that the role of advertising was widely misunderstood and stated that there was no academic evidence that advertising grew category size. He went on to state that " Kids’ food preferences and choices are learnt from their culture before they become aware of advertising.".[7] [8]


In reply to an FOI inquiry in January 2009 regarding his membership of the AEF, the University of Exeter replied stating, " In response to your email I can confirm that Brian Young is a member of the AEF (Advertising Education Forum) as you mention this information is publicly available via the AEF website. The University does not hold details of his membership and we are therefore unable to respond to your remaining questions." [11]

Publications, Contact, Resources and Notes


  • Young, B.M. (2007). Advertising literacy revisited: fat children and other things. Chapter 8. In Saren, et & al (eds) Critical Marketing: Defining the Field (pp. 113-124). Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Young, B.M. & Ayadi, K. (2006). Community partnerships designed for preventing childhood obesity. Young Consumers 7(4), 35-40.
  • Young, B.M. (2005). Children and promotion: the role of advertising and marketing in innovation. Chapter 5. In B.Tufte, J.Rasmussen & L.B.Christensen (eds) Frontrunners or Copycats? (pp. 99-117). Copenhagen: .
  • Webley, P., Burgoyne, C.B., Lea, S.E.G. & Young, B.M. (eds) (2001). The Economic Psychology of Everyday Life.Hove: Psychology Press.



Washington Singer Building, Room 004, School of Psychology, Washington Singer Laboratories, Perry Road, Exeter, EX4 4QG

Phone:0044 (0) 1392 264626



  1. Advertising Association Contribution by the AA TO DCSF Assessment on the impact of the commercial world on childhood, accessed January 12 2009.
  2. Reply to FOI request from DCSF to kerri Park, received 26 February 2009
  3. Advertising Association News Release, accessed March 12 2009
  4. Advertising Association FAU submission of written evidence to the inquiry, accessed January 12 2009.
  5. AEF The Role of Television Advertising in Children’s Food Choice , accessed January 12 2009.
  6. Advertising Education Forum FOOD ADVERTISING,FOOD CHOICE AND OBESITY, accessed January 23 2009.
  7. Advertising Association 2001 Conference, accessed January 23 2009.
  8. Advertising Association Conference proceedings, accessed January 23 2009.
  9. International Journal of Advertising Editorial Board, accessed January 12 2009.
  10. Advertising Education Forum AEF Academic Network (AAN), accessed 1 August 2007.
  11. Email correspondence between Caroline Dominey, Records Manager, University of Exeter and Mary Craig January 5- 14 2009.