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Physiol Behav. 2012 Jun 6;106(3):379-86. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2012.03.011. Epub 2012 Mar 16.

The impact of food branding on children's eating behavior and obesity.

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Department of Research Medicine, New York Obesity Research Center, St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10025, USA.


Branding is a technique used by the food industry to create a recognizable image to attract consumers and hopefully boost sales of the product. Children recognize food brands from a young age, but their impact on the development of eating behaviors and obesity is unclear. In addition, the notion that some branding techniques may be used to increase intake of healthful foods, like fruits and vegetables, has not been rigorously investigated. Three laboratory-based intake studies designed to test the impact of common food brands on children's eating habits are presented. In the first study, four to six year-old children (n=43) were exposed to ad libitum test-meals where foods were presented either with or without their associated branding. In the second study, a novel food brand based Stroop task was developed and tested to assess children's cognitive response to food brands, and following this procedure, seven to nine year-old children (n=41) ate ad libitum test-meals consisting of foods packaged with or without a logo from a popular fast food restaurant. Finally, a pilot intervention was conducted with four to five year-old children (n=16) to demonstrate the efficacy of using licensed (spokes) characters to package and promote intake of fruits and vegetables. These studies demonstrate that branding is an important influence on what and how much children eat, but some children may be more susceptible to these influences than others. Future studies are needed to better understand the influence that child age, sex, and obesity has on response to food branding and marketing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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