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Marketing foods to children through product packaging: prolific, unhealthy and misleading

  • Kaye Mehta (a1) (a2), Clare Phillips (a1), Paul Ward (a1), John Coveney (a1), Elizabeth Handsley (a3) and Patricia Carter (a4)...

Abstract

Objective

To investigate marketing techniques used on the packaging of child-oriented products sold through supermarkets.

Design

Food and beverage products which met criteria for ‘marketed to children’ were recorded as child-oriented. The products were analysed for food categories, nutritional value, and type and extent of marketing techniques used.

Setting

A major supermarket chain in Adelaide, South Australia.

Subjects

Child-oriented food and beverage products.

Results

One hundred and fifty-seven discrete products were marketed to children via product packaging; most (75·2 %) represented non-core foods, being high in fat or sugar. Many marketing techniques (more than sixteen unique marketing techniques) were used to promote child-oriented food products. Claims about health and nutrition were found on 55·5 % of non-core foods. A median of 6·43 marketing techniques per product was found.

Conclusions

The high volume and power of marketing non-core foods to children via product packaging in supermarkets should be of concern to policy makers wanting to improve children's diet for their health and to tackle childhood obesity. Claims about health or nutrition on non-core foods deserve urgent attention owing to their potential to mislead and confuse child and adult consumers.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email kaye.mehta@flinders.edu.au

References

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