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


Journal Article

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.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Harris, JL; Schwartz, MB; Brownell, KD

Published Date

  • March 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 13 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 409 - 417

PubMed ID

  • 19719889

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19719889

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1475-2727

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1368-9800

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/s1368980009991339


  • eng