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Public Health Nutr. 2010 Mar;13(3):409-17. doi: 10.1017/S1368980009991339. Epub 2009 Sep 1.

Marketing foods to children and adolescents: licensed characters and other promotions on packaged foods in the supermarket.

Author information

  • 1Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, PO Box 208369, New Haven, CT 06520-8369, USA. Jennifer.harris@yale.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To analyse cross-promotions targeted to children and adolescents on packaging in the supermarket.

DESIGN:

On three occasions from 2006 to 2008, researchers purchased all foods in a large supermarket that included a cross-promotion on the package. A total of 397 products were categorized by promotional partner, food category, targeted age group, promotion type, product nutrition, and company policies on marketing to children.

RESULTS:

The number of products with youth-oriented cross-promotions increased by 78 % during the period examined. Overall, 71 % of cross-promotions involved third-party licensed characters and 57 % appealed primarily to children under 12 years of age; however, the use of other forms of promotions increased from 5 % of the total in 2006 to 53 % in 2008, and promotions targeting pre-school and general audiences increased from 23 % to 54 % of the total. Only 18 % of products met accepted nutrition standards for foods sold to youth, and nutritional quality declined during the period examined. Food manufacturers with policies limiting marketing to children represented 65 % of all youth-oriented cross-promotions, their use of cross-promotions increased significantly, and the nutritional quality of their products did not improve. Some media companies did reduce the use of their properties on food promotions.

CONCLUSIONS:

Overall, the supermarket environment worsened due to an increase in cross-promotions targeted to children and adolescents and a decline in the nutritional quality of these products. This analysis failed to find improvements in food marketing to youth and highlights the need to expand current industry self-regulatory pledges.

PMID:
19719889
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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