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Health Promot Int. 2006 Dec;21(4):331-9. Epub 2006 Aug 1.

The extent and nature of food promotion directed to children in Australian supermarkets.

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  • 1Health Strategies Division, The Cancer Council, Kings Cross NSW 1340 Australia. kathyc@nswcc.org.au

Abstract

The aim of this study was to describe the nature and amount of sales promotion use on food packaging in selected Australian supermarkets, specifically those directed at children through the use of premium offers, such as giveaways and competitions, and cartoon and movie character promotions. The study also examined the promotion of healthy versus unhealthy foods. Nine supermarkets located across the metropolitan area of Sydney, Australia were surveyed to assess the extent and nature of food promotion directed at children. The number and types of promotions were measured within seven food categories: sweet biscuits, snack foods, confectionery, chips/savoury snacks, cereals, dairy snacks and ice cream. Any foods that utilized promotional tactics were categorized as either healthy or unhealthy, according to set criteria. The study found that within the seven food categories between 9 and 35% of food products used promotional tactics. The use of television, movie celebrities and cartoon characters for promotion was most common, making up 75% of all promotions. Giveaways accounted for 13% of all promotions. When used, giveaways were commonly used in conjunction with another promotional method. Data from this study also confirmed that 82% of all food promotions were for unhealthy foods and only 18% were used to promote healthy foods. However, for dairy snacks and ice cream the majority of promotions, 99 and 65%, respectively, were healthier choices. This was the first study to describe the extent and nature of food promotions used in supermarkets. The promotion of unhealthy foods in supermarkets is common and is one of the many factors contributing to today's obesity promoting environment. Further research is required to determine the impact of food promotions on children's dietary intake, and to determine the most effective ways to restrict the promotion of unhealthy foods.

PMID:
16885173
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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