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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47000. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047000. Epub 2012 Oct 17.

Food marketing towards children: brand logo recognition, food-related behavior and BMI among 3-13-year-olds in a south Indian town.

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Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.



To assess exposure to marketing of unhealthy food products and its relation to food related behavior and BMI in children aged 3-13, from different socioeconomic backgrounds in a south Indian town.


Child-parent pairs (n=306) were recruited at pediatric clinics. Exposure to food marketing was assessed by a digital logo recognition test. Children matched 18 logos of unhealthy food (high in fat/sugar/salt) featured in promotion material from the food industry to pictures of corresponding products. Children's nutritional knowledge, food preferences, purchase requests, eating behavior and socioeconomic characteristics were assessed by a digital game and parental questionnaires. Anthropometric measurements were recorded.


Recognition rates for the brand logos ranged from 30% to 80%. Logo recognition ability increased with age (p<0.001) and socioeconomic level (p<0.001 comparing children in the highest and lowest of three socioeconomic groups). Adjusted for gender, age and socioeconomic group, logo recognition was associated with higher BMI (p=0.022) and nutritional knowledge (p<0.001) but not to unhealthy food preferences or purchase requests.


Children from higher socioeconomic groups in the region had higher brand logo recognition ability and are possibly exposed to more food marketing. The study did not lend support to a link between exposure to marketing and poor eating behavior, distorted nutritional knowledge or increased purchase requests. The correlation between logo recognition and BMI warrants further investigation on food marketing towards children and its potential role in the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases in this part of India.

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