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Charlene Elliott


Professor, Faculty of Arts, Department of Communication Studies;   
BMO Research Fund in Healthy Living;
Canada Research Chair, Food Marketing, Policy and Children's Health;     
Scholar in Residence, Calgary Institute for the Humanities

(403) 220-3180

University of Calgary
2500 University Avenue NW
Calgary, AB  T2N 1N4 

Research Activities: 

Food marketing, Policy, Food lavelling, Regulation, Obesity, Communication and Health, Children's culture

Dr. Elliott holds a Tier II CIHR Canada Research Chair in Food Marketing, Policy and Children's Health. Her program of research examines food marketing, packaging and policy in Canada, with a specific focus on children's health. 

Broadly, Dr. Charlene Elliott’s research project explores the issue of “food communication”—food marketing, packaging, and policy—in the context of children’s health. Her research probes the types of foods targeted specifically to children, their nutritional quality (and nutritional appeals) and their symbolic marketing. While researchers commonly observe that food is marketed to children using child-friendly appeals or that exposure to food advertising influences children’s food choices/preferences, Dr. Elliott’s program of research also asks “what does it mean—in terms of dietary habits and health—to promote food using particular types of appeals?” 

She is currently heading up a Alberta Innovates Health Solutions funded grant on Food Marketing and Media Literacy , which evaluates children's perceptions of packaged food, and has developed a Media Literacy and Food Marketing curriculum for elementary school children.


Dr. Elliott holds a Tier II CIHR Canada Research Chair in Food Marketing, Policy and Children's Health.  She is currently involved with three research projects:


1. Obesity and public health: Canada's increasing rate of obesity is a significant public health problem, requiring preventative public health solutions. This project has several components. It 1) explores how obesity is framed as a public health problem in Canada 2) assesses food marketing and its relationship to obesity 3) probes the reception of food/media messages and 4) deals with Canada's regulatory environment when it comes to food. Dr. Elliott's current focus is on the marketing of food to children in the supermarket, as well as the way that age and gender influences children's negotiation with food and food messages. This research is aimed at creating Canadian policy recommendations for food/nutrition.

2. Taste and Communication: This project deals broadly with theorizing a communication of taste. From marketing Starbucks to creating connoisseurship or probing the public response to GM foods, the research seeks to develop a more nuanced understanding of taste, how it functions in society and how it communicates.

3. Intellectual property and sensorial communication: This project deals with the expanding boundaries of intellectual property rights, particularly trademark rights. Of primary focus is the trademarking of sensory marks; the project deals with the communicative and policy implications of codifying colour, shape and scent. 

Dr. Elliott is principal investigator of a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) grant on the marketing of foods to children and also principal investigator of a Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) grant on food marketing in the supermarket. She is co-investigator of an Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research grant investigating the impact of product placement on children. In addition, she sits on the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Council of Food and Nutrition, and is an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology.

  • Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)