Posts Tagged ‘ junk food ’

Toddlers’ Brand Recognition Higher Among Unhealthy Foods

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Young kids start recognizing foods according to brand names between ages 3 and 4, a new Irish study has found–and their brand recognition is higher among unhealthy foods.  Reuters has more:

Food-brand knowledge predicts what kids will ask for later, said lead author Mimi Tatlow-Golden of the School of Psychology at University College Dublin.

The study included 172 children in Ireland, ages three to five years old, a quarter of whom were from Northern Ireland, where marketing regulations differ from the rest of the country.

Just over half of the kids attended school in a disadvantaged community, according to local government and education department data.

Parents filled out questionnaires about family demographics, eating habits and children’s TV viewing alone and with others.

Researchers surveyed the kids at school one at a time, showing them nine food brand logos and product images, four belonging to healthy foods and five to less healthy foods, all of which are widely advertised in Ireland.

The researchers first asked kids if they knew the brand name of a food based on the logo, then if they knew what kind of food it was, then if they could match the brand logo to a picture of the correct food product.

Kids’ scores on the brand questions rose for all types of foods between ages three and five, the authors report in the journal Appetite. On average, kids could name about a third of the brands, name the product type of half the brands and correctly match the images of almost two-thirds of the brands.

At all ages, kids were better at recognizing the less healthy foods. Their knowledge of unhealthy foods was most strongly predicted by how much unhealthy food their parents ate, and was not predicted by TV time or their mother’s education level, the researchers found.

“We definitely couldn’t conclude that marketing doesn’t work, we just need to look beyond TV,” Sandra Jones, director of the Center for Health Initiatives at the University of Wollongong in Australia, told Reuters Health.

Some of the healthy brands in the study, like Frube flavored yogurt in a tube and Cheestring string cheese, only refer to one specific food product, whereas the unhealthy brands, which included Cadbury’s, McDonalds and Coca-Cola, produce a wide range of products, she noted. This could have skewed the results, said Jones, who was not involved in the research.

Image: Boy eating candy, via Shutterstock

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Study: Banning Junk Food Sales in Schools Won’t Prevent Obesity

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

A study published this month in the journal Sociology of Education has found that banning the sale of salty and sweet junk foods in schools has no correlation to decreased rates of childhood obesity.  The New York Times reports:

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University tracked the body mass indexes of 19,450 students from fifth through eighth grade. In fifth grade, 59 percent of the children attended a school where candy, snacks or sugar-sweetened beverages were sold. By eighth grade, 86 percent did so.

The researchers compared children’s weight in schools where junk food was sold and in schools where it was banned. The scientists also evaluated eighth graders who moved into schools that sold junk food with those who did not, and children who never attended a school that sold snacks with those who did. And they compared children who always attended schools with snacks with those who moved out of such schools.

No matter how the researchers looked at the data, they could find no correlation at all between obesity and attending a school where sweets and salty snacks were available.

“Food preferences are established early in life,” said Jennifer Van Hook, the lead author and a professor of sociology and demography at Penn State. “This problem of childhood obesity cannot be placed solely in the hands of schools.”

Image: Candy, via Shutterstock.

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