Article

“It's junk food and chicken nuggets”: Children's perspectives on ‘kids' food’ and the question of food classification

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Abstract

Given the expansive nature of children's food, banning the advertising of poorly nutritious products to children only deals with part of the problem. What is missing is an understanding of how child-oriented food marketing has reconfigured children's broader perceptions of what food means and the kinds of foods that are ‘for them’. Drawing from focus groups conducted across Canada, this article examines the perspectives of 225 children who discussed both ‘kids' food’ and ‘adult food’. The research reveals the broader implications of particular food marketing strategies. When children think of ‘kids' food’, they generally think of junk food, sugar, sugary cereals and the fun shapes and unusual colours characterizing much of contemporary child-oriented packaged food. When children think of ‘adult food’, they think of fruits, vegetables and meat. In short, ‘adult foods’ are generally the unprocessed fruits, vegetables and meats that all North Americans should be consuming more of, whereas ‘kids' foods’ are associated with processed, high-sugar, low-nutrient edibles. The paper further reveals how ‘kids' food’ functions as an object or technology of identification for children enacted through a set of characteristics that the edibles share. Children's classification of food also reveals their savvy awareness that both ‘kids' food’ and ‘adult food’ can contain transgressive elements. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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... Twenty-five articles met the inclusion criteria ( Figure 1). The literature available examined the exposure to, power of or impact of food marketing to children in Canada in general, 36,40 on television, 34,[41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48] online, [49][50][51] in public schools, 52 on product packaging in grocery stores 35,37,[53][54][55][56][57][58] and in fast food restaurants 59,60 (Table 3). The majority of articles were based on crosssectional studies (n = 14). ...
... Nine studies explored how food marketing impacted food attitudes, preferences and behaviours-three using experimental, 48,59,60 one using cross-sectional 49 and five using qualitative methods. 35,36,40,57,58 Exposure to and power of food marketing to children in Canada Exposure to food marketing in the home: television Six articles reviewed exposure to television food marketing. 34,[41][42][43][44][45] In these studies, exposure was measured by the proportion of all television advertisements that were for food (overall and unhealthy) and the rate of food advertisements per hour per channel. ...
... healthy and unhealthy options) were over three times as likely to select the healthy meal. 59 Finally, evidence from qualitative studies that were not setting-specific show that Canadian children have homogeneous attitudes towards food, 36,40 suggesting that cumulative exposures to food marketing may have a greater impact on children's food culture than a single exposure in a study. Focus groups conducted in Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick with children aged 6 to 11 years showed that children distinguished between food for themselves and for others. ...
Article
Introduction Food marketing impacts children’s food knowledge, behaviours and health. Current regulations in Canada focus on restricting promotional aspects of food marketing with little-to-no consideration of the places where children experience food. Understanding food marketing in children’s everyday settings is necessary to protect children. This scoping review describes the current literature on food marketing to children in Canada by setting. Methods The author searched databases for Canadian research on children’s exposure to food marketing, and the power and impact of food marketing to children (2-17 years) across settings, and on how current regulations may mediate the effect of food marketing on children. Peer-reviewed studies in English, published between 2000 and 2016, were included. Results Twenty-five studies documented children’s exposure to food marketing and its power and/or impact on them in homes (via television, or online) (n = 12), public schools (n = 1), grocery stores (n = 8), fast food restaurants (n = 2), and in general (n = 2). Research trends suggest that unhealthy foods are targeted at children using multiple promotional techniques that overlap across settings. Several research gaps exist in this area, leading to an incomplete, and potentially underestimated, picture of food marketing to children in Canada. Available evidence suggests that current Canadian approaches have not reduced children’s exposure to or the power of food marketing in these settings, with the exception of some positive influences from Quebec’s statutory regulations. Conclusion The settings where children eat, buy or learn about food expose them to powerful, often unhealthy food marketing. The current evidence suggests that “place” may be an important marketing component to be included in public policy in order to broadly protect children from unhealthy food marketing. Organizations and communities can engage in settings-based health promotion interventions by developing their own marketing policies that address the promotion and place of unhealthy food and beverages.
... According to the World Health Organization (2015), processed foods that pervade the US food environment are a key reason that eating a well-balanced, healthy diet is difficult. Not only are these foods readily available, but they typically violate nutrition recommendations, such as limiting added sugars, salts, and fats (Boyland & Halford, 2013;Elliott, 2011;World Health Organization, 2015). Therefore, the pervasiveness of packaged foods might be a barrier to eating healthfully in the US due to appeal, accessibility, palatability, and the deceptiveness of marketing. ...
... Although the packaging of foods influences how we think about foods both in terms of health and taste and may impact consumption, the existing research has mixed conclusions and researchers have indicated that more research is needed (Krishna et al., 2017;Werle et al., 2016). Understanding how children respond to food packaging is important because children are highly influenced by certain features of packaging (Elliott, 2011(Elliott, , 2012, and might in turn influence their parents' purchasing habits (Nicholls & Cullen, 2004). Furthermore, previous research has demonstrated a need to better understand how children think about food in terms of health and taste (Schultz & Danford, 2016). ...
Article
Eating healthfully is a challenge in the US; most American children do not eat enough fruits and vegetables and exceed daily recommendations for salts, fats, and sugars. The pervasiveness of packaged foods, which are often reduced in nutritional value through added salt, fat, or sugar, adds to the challenge of eating healthfully. There is still much to learn about how aspects of packaging impact children. This study examined how different types of packaging (i.e., healthy, fun, plain, unpackaged) of fruits and vegetables influence children's health and taste evaluations. Thirty children (Mage = 7.1 years, SD = 1.0) participated in a food rating task where they rated the health, taste, and their willingness to try 64 packaged fruits and vegetables (on a scale from 1 to 5). Children were influenced by aspects of the packaging; they rated healthy and fun packaging more favorably in most cases suggesting that children respond more positively to visually appealing packaging than to plain packaging. These results are consistent with previous findings and have implications for how to promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption among children. Future research should explore if the same trends exist when packaged fruits and vegetables are compared to other packaged snack foods.
... In the literature, "children's food" is often perceived as a recent category and refers to products designed having children in mind and marketed to them (Roos 2002;Elliott 2011). Jing (2000b for example explains that "children's food" is a relatively new category in China. ...
... Nevertheless, there is a certain expectation, both among children and adults that children are supposed to favor certain foods (Ludvigsen & Scott 2009). Elliott (2011) shows that according to children, children's food is related with fun, colors, being interactive, while adults' food entails seriousness, health, responsibility and is rather boring. However, she dismisses the connection between children's food and fruits and vegetables that some of her interlocutors made, because it was rarely mentioned (ibid.: 136). ...
... In addition to children's taste categories, these findings may be explained by the widespread use of advertising food to children. Foods marketed towards children are often visually appealing with lots of colors, shapes, and showcase fun characters and themes (Boyland & Halford, 2013;Elliott, 2011). These foods are also typically high in fat, salt, and sugar and usually come in a package (Boyland & Halford, 2013;Elliott, 2011). ...
... Foods marketed towards children are often visually appealing with lots of colors, shapes, and showcase fun characters and themes (Boyland & Halford, 2013;Elliott, 2011). These foods are also typically high in fat, salt, and sugar and usually come in a package (Boyland & Halford, 2013;Elliott, 2011). Advertising creates brand awareness in children through use of attractive visual qualities Note: * p < .05. ** p < .01. and has been shown to impact taste preferences in children (Boyland & Halford, 2013). ...
Article
This study examined how preschoolers think about novel foods in terms of health and taste. Thirty-nine children ages 4–6 years (M = 4.67) participated in a categorization task in which they saw a picture of a novel food paired with verbal information. Children then evaluated foods by taste and health and rated how much they would like to try the foods. Children displayed a preference for packaged foods by indicating they were yummy and more willing to try them, suggesting a possible association with food marketing. Children readily evaluated foods as healthy when told it “makes you strong” but did not reliably evaluate them as yummy when told it “tastes delicious”, suggesting more wariness about adults’ taste evaluations.
... This creates a certain irony: marketers insist that milk needs to be made more fun, child-friendly, and exciting yet this marketing strategy also means that children view milk as less healthy -even when it is not the case. This link between fun/child-friendly and poor nutritional value is supported by other research, which reveals that children view kid-friendly food as less healthy than adult food (Elliott 2011;Roos 2002), and view fun packaging as signaling less healthy food (Elliott and Brierley 2012). From a public health perspective, the survey suggests that the 'funning' of food has problematic implications because even healthy foods are viewed as less healthy for children when packaged as fun. ...
... Its findings are supported by other research showing that kids view serious and plain looking packages (Elliott and Brierley 2012), glass packaging (Aday and Yener 2014), as well as the absence of a package (e.g. fresh produce) (Elliott 2011), as indicators of health. ...
Article
Does the package have an impact on children’s perception of the healthfulness of milk? That’s the question we sought to answer as part of a survey given to 185 Canadian children aged 7–12. Children were randomly assigned to complete one of two surveys, in which they indicated the healthfulness of different food items, including milk in four different types of packaging. Milk with the least amount of packaging – milk in a glass – was perceived to be healthier than milk in a plain carton, milk in a carton with a macronutrient claim, or milk in a child-friendly container (p < 0.001). Such knowledge is useful from a public health perspective in terms of positively influencing consumer choice, and sheds important insight into how food packaging communicates to, and is understood by, children. While the food industry often frames declining milk consumption as a promotional problem – and one solved by increasing the fun factor of milk through packaging – more packaging is not the solution to creating a healthy food environment for children.
... les aliments qui leur sont desti nés et les aliments destinés aux autres40 . Ils ont déclaré que les « aliments pour enfants » étaient de la malbouffe sucrée, associée à des dessins humoristiques et offerte en formes ou en couleurs amus antes, ces aliments pouvant être consom més avec les mains ou servir de jouets40, p.133 . ...
... Ces caractéristiques symbo liques nommées par les enfants sont le reflet des techniques puissantes énumérées dans notre étude et utilisées par l'industrie alimentaire pour commercialiser un produit auprès des enfants. Inversement, les enfants percevaient les aliments pour adultes comme étant fades, non transfor més, sains, responsables et pas pour eux40 . De même, les adolescents (de 12 à 14 ans) ont personnifié les aliments de façon uni forme dans l'ensemble du Canada36 . ...
Article
Introduction La publicité alimentaire a des répercussions sur les connaissances et les comportements alimentaires des enfants ainsi que sur leur santé. La réglementation actuelle au Canada est axée sur la restriction des aspects promotionnels de la publicité alimentaire, mais elle accorde peu d’attention, voire aucune, à l’endroit où se fait l’expérience alimentaire des enfants. Il est essentiel de comprendre où s’inscrit la publicité alimentaire dans le quotidien des enfants pour pouvoir les protéger. Notre étude fait état de la littérature sur la publicité alimentaire destinée aux enfants au Canada en fonction du contexte. Méthodologie L’auteure a consulté des bases de données pour trouver des travaux de recherche canadiens portant sur l’exposition des enfants et des jeunes (de 2 à 17 ans) à la publicité alimentaire, sur le pouvoir et les répercussions que celle-ci peut avoir sur les enfants dans différents contextes et sur la façon dont la réglementation actuelle peut en atténuer l'effet sur les enfants. Ont été sélectionnées les études en anglais, examinées par des pairs et publiées entre 2000 et 2016. Résultats Vingt-cinq études se sont intéressées à l’exposition des enfants à la publicité alimentaire et au pouvoir ou aux répercussions qu’elle peut avoir sur ceux-ci à la maison (par la télévision ou Internet) (n = 12), dans les écoles publiques (n = 1), dans les épiceries (n = 8), dans les restaurants rapides (n = 2) et en général (n = 2). Les tendances de la recherche révèlent que les aliments malsains ciblent les enfants par différentes techniques promotionnelles, qui se chevauchent selon les contextes. Il existe plusieurs lacunes en matière de recherche dans ce domaine, ce qui donne un portrait incomplet et potentiellement sous-estimé de la publicité alimentaire destinée aux enfants au Canada. Les données probantes disponibles indiquent que les approches canadiennes actuelles n’ont pas permis de réduire l’exposition des enfants à la publicité alimentaire ni le pouvoir de celleci dans ces contextes, à l’exception de certaines influences positives de la réglementation officielle au Québec. Conclusion Les contextes dans lesquels les enfants consomment des aliments, en achètent ou apprennent à les connaître les exposent à une publicité puissante qui, souvent, porte sur des aliments malsains. Les données probantes indiquent que la « place » pourrait être une composante de marketing importante à inclure dans les politiques publiques afin de protéger les enfants de la publicité sur les aliments malsains d’une façon générale. Les organisations et les collectivités peuvent participer aux interventions de promotion de la santé en fonction des contextes en élaborant leurs propres politiques de marketing pour s’attaquer à la promotion et à la distribution de boissons et d'aliments malsains.
... In the literature, "children's food" is often perceived as a recent category and refers to products designed having children in mind and marketed to them (Roos 2002;Elliott 2011). Jing (2000b for example explains that "children's food" is a relatively new category in China. ...
... Nevertheless, there is a certain expectation, both among children and adults that children are supposed to favor certain foods (Ludvigsen & Scott 2009). Elliott (2011) shows that according to children, children's food is related with fun, colors, being interactive, while adults' food entails seriousness, health, responsibility and is rather boring. However, she dismisses the connection between children's food and fruits and vegetables that some of her interlocutors made, because it was rarely mentioned (ibid.: 136). ...
Article
Children’s food culture is created through their everyday practices: through negotiations at the dinner table, in school, when watching TV and through their relations with parents, grandparents, siblings and peers. Drawing on twelve months of research in Warsaw (Poland), which included ethnographic study with families and in primary schools, I argue that children’s food culture is created in opposition to adult rules, yet it also incorporates elements of adults’ food culture. In fact it is influenced by different groups of adults: parents, teachers, marketers. It consists not only of improper sweets and junk foods, often identified as the symbol of children’s food, but includes also proper meals and related norms. In this article I discuss how children’s food culture is negotiated and created through material, moral, practical and historical processes in post-socialist Poland.
... Outcomes of the Lunch is in the Bag efficacy trial add to the accumulating evidence that parents need more and better assistance to leverage the opportunity a packed lunch provides for helping children to learn to eat and enjoy vegetables, whole grains and other healthy choices instead of foods high in added fat, sugar, and sodium such as chips and sweets. Although the Lunch is in the Bag newsletters sent from the ECE center to the parents provided sample menus and information focused on maximizing healthy options, observation of the children's lunches at baseline and at follow-up suggested parents packed to accommodate or please the child by packing 'kid foods' [55,56] such as fruit leathers and similar sweetened fruit snacks. In focus group research, school age children identify sweets and chicken nuggets and products with child-oriented packaging as 'kid foods' while unprocessed fruit, vegetables, and meats are perceived as 'adult foods' [55]. ...
... Although the Lunch is in the Bag newsletters sent from the ECE center to the parents provided sample menus and information focused on maximizing healthy options, observation of the children's lunches at baseline and at follow-up suggested parents packed to accommodate or please the child by packing 'kid foods' [55,56] such as fruit leathers and similar sweetened fruit snacks. In focus group research, school age children identify sweets and chicken nuggets and products with child-oriented packaging as 'kid foods' while unprocessed fruit, vegetables, and meats are perceived as 'adult foods' [55]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Lunches that parents pack for their young children to eat at school or the Early Care and Education (ECE) center fall short of recommended standards. Lunch is in the Bag is a multi-level behavioral nutrition intervention to increase parents’ packing of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains in their children’s lunches. Designed for implementation in ECE centers, the five-week long intervention is followed three months later with a one-week booster. Efficacy of Lunch is in the Bag was tested in cluster randomized trial. Participants were 633 families from 30 ECE centers (15 intervention, 15 control) across Austin, San Antonio, and Houston, Texas, USA. Primary outcomes were servings of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains observed in the children’s parent-packed bag lunches. Servings of refined grains, meats/beans/eggs/nuts, dairy, chips, and sweets also were observed. Data were collected at baseline, post-intervention (6-week follow-up), pre-booster (22-weeks follow-up), and post-booster (28-week follow-up). Time-by-treatment interactions were analyzed separately for each of the food groups using multi-level models to compare changes from baseline. Analyses were adjusted for relevant demographic variables and clustering within centers and parents. The intervention effected increases from baseline to 6-week follow-up in vegetables (0.17 servings, SE = 0.04, P < 0.001) and whole grains (0.30 servings, SE = 0.13, P = 0.018). The increase in whole grains was maintained through the 28-week follow-up (0.34 servings, SE = 0.13, P = 0.009). Fruit averaged more than 1.40 servings with no differences between groups or across time. The intervention prevented increase in sweets (-0.43 servings, SE = 0.11, P < .001, at the 22-week follow-up). Parents persisted, however, in packing small amounts of vegetables (averages of 0.41 to 0.52 servings) and large amounts of sweets and chips (averages of 1.75 to 1.99 servings). The need for and positive effects of the Lunch is in the Bag intervention at ECE centers where parents send bag lunch for their preschool-aged children was confirmed. An important direction for future research is discovery of more options for leveraging the partnership of ECE centers and families to help young children learn to eat and enjoy vegetables and other healthy foods in preference to less healthy choices such as chips and sweets. Trial registration The Clinical Trials Number is NCT01292434.
... 14 Previous research has shown, however, that children identify "serious" looking packages with healthy food, 14 and also classify "kids" food as "fun" compared to "boring" adult fare. 15 When it comes to children's views on food and nutrition, focus group research has probed the "major barriers" children identified with regard to healthy eating (such as taste, appearance of food, rebellion), 21 as well as the relationship between television viewing and children's nutritional knowledge and reasoning. 22 More importantly, research has shown that children's preference for healthy foods (particularly fruits and vegetables) increases along with their cognitive abilities as they age and come to understand the importance of health. ...
Article
Today's supermarket contains hundreds of packaged foods specifically targeted at children. Yet research has shown that children are confused by the various visual messages found on packaged food products. This study explores children's nutrition knowledge with regard to packaged food products, to uncover strengths and difficulties they have in evaluating the healthfulness of these foods. Focus groups were conducted with children (grades 1-6). Particular attention was paid to the ways children made use of what they know about nutrition when faced with the visual elements and appeals presented on food packaging. Children relied heavily on packages' written and visual aspects - including colour, images, spokes-characters, front-of-package claims - to assess the healthfulness of a food product. These elements interfere with children's ability to make healthy choices when it comes to packaged foods. Choosing healthy packaged foods is challenging for children due to competing sets of knowledge: one pertains to their understanding of visual, associational cues; the other, to translating their understanding of nutrition to packaged foods. Canada's Food Guide, along with the curriculum taught to Canadian children at schools, does not appear to provide children with the tools necessary to navigate a food environment dominated by packaged foods.
... Thus, young consumers are appealed to by well-known characters, who enrich the playfulness of the product and increase children's purchase requests (Hémar-Nicolas, 2011;Linn and Novosat, 2008). Drawing on the concept of 'nutri-tainment' or 'eater-tainment,' marketers often try to combine nutrition and entertainment when targeting children (Elliott, 2011;Gram et al., 2010;Lulio, 2010): offering a cookie with cereal and that is in the shape of Spiderman™ provides taste enjoyment and nutritional benefits, while projecting children into a fantasy world. Thus, appealing branding that uses famous characters may boost the choice of healthy foods (Wansink et al. , 2012). ...
Chapter
In her campaign to prevent childhood obesity, Michelle Obama has called on food manufacturers to produce and promote healthy foods, and to use the power of brands to teach to children to adopt healthy eating behaviors.
... This might be a positive option in light of studies showing that food packaging can influence children's perceptions of food more broadly, including how they evaluate the healthfulness of packaged foods. 24,25 The challenge, however, is that this idea of promoting healthy food can be misused, particularly in consideration of the questionable products that have counted as "healthy" dietary choices for children by some food industry initiatives. 26 Given this, perhaps food is best presented to preschoolers without any packaging whatsoever (i.e., on a plate). ...
Article
This study examines the effects of branding and packaging on young children's taste preferences. Preschool children aged 3 to 5 (n=65) tasted five pairs of identical foods in packaging from McDonald's and in matched packaging that was either plain, Starbucks-branded, or colourful (but unbranded). Children were asked if the foods tasted the same or if one tasted better. Children preferred the taste of foods wrapped in decorative wrappings, relying more on aesthetics than on familiar branding when making their choices. The findings suggest the need to explore questions beyond commercial advertising (and brand promotion) on television and other media platforms. More attention should be directed at the important role of packaging in directing children's food preferences.
... Stated by Elliott (2011), banning unhealthy child oriented products advertisement only contribute little solution to childhood obesity. Therefore, this study focuses on how children determine food that belongs to them while choosing from variety choices. ...
Article
Full-text available
The rise of childhood obesity is one of the public health concerns in the worldwide. It can be said as the sign of crisis because it is harmful to children. Therefore, this report has covered a total of 25 journal articles. Articles reviewed are regarded on the intention of food marketers to formulate a healthier child oriented food, the strategies applied to promote their food such as Advergames and product packaging, the volume of food advertisements to children as well as how these strategies have changed the mindset of children. In conclusion, most of the television commercials are unhealthy food by using fantasies and positive atmosphere to attract children’s attention. Unhealthy food marketers would tend to design the food packaging with cartoon characters and bright colors as those catches the children’s attention more efficiently. Children would even visit the website delivered from television commercials and product packaging which often include Advergames for them to play and increase brand recognition. Children’s perspective on children food has changed dramatically due to the influence of advertisement delivered by food marketers. Most of the food marketers tend not to produce a healthier food to children. Therefore government in different countries should set a rule to limit the unhealthy food advertisements delivered to children since it does play a major role in childhood obesity.
... Stated by Elliott (2011), banning unhealthy child oriented products advertisement only contribute little solution to childhood obesity. Therefore, this study ...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract- The rise of childhood obesity is one of the public health concerns in worldwide. It can be said as the sign of crisis because it is harmful to children. Therefore, this report has covered a total of 25 journal articles. Articles reviewed are regarding on the intention of food marketers to formulate a healthier child oriented food, the strategies applied to promote their food such as advergames and product packaging, the volume of food advertisements to children as well as how these strategies have changed the mindset of children. In conclusion, most of the television commercials are unhealthy food by using fantasies and positive atmosphere to attract children’s attention. Unhealthy food marketers would tend to design the food packaging with cartoon characters and bright colors as those catches the children’s attention more efficiently. Children would even visit the website delivered from television commercials and product packaging which often include advergames for them to play and increase brand recognition. Children’s perspective on children food has changed dramatically due to the influence of advertisement delivered by food marketers. Most of the food marketers tend not to produce a healthier food to children. Therefore government in different country should set a rule to limit the unhealthy food advertisements delivered to children since it does play a major role in childhood obesity.
... The increasing prominence of food placements on television (see Elliott, 2011;Pires & Agante, 2011;Speers et al., 2011;Sutherland et al., 2010) stands in sharp contrast to the scarce empirical evidence in the literature. Although there is some knowledge about the effects of brand placements on children's cognitive, affective, and conative responses to online games (e.g., Harris, Speers, Schartz, and Brownell, 2011;Mallinckrodt & Mizerski, 2007;Pempek & Calvert, 2009;, none of this research is dedicated to food consumption behavior or food intake as a consequence of exposure to placements in narrative movies. ...
Article
Almost all research on the effects of product placements on children has focused on brand attitudes or behavioral intentions. Drawing on the important difference between attitudes or behavioral intentions on the one hand and actual behavior on the other, this paper tests the effects of brand placements on children's food consumption. Children from 6 to 14 years old were exposed to an excerpt of the popular movie Alvin and the Chipmunks, including placements for the product Cheese Balls. Three versions were created: one without placements, one with moderate placement frequency, and one with high placement frequency. Results showed that exposure to high-frequency product placements exerted a significant effect on snack consumption, but no effect on brand or product attitudes. These effects were independent of children's ages. The findings are of great importance to consumer behavior scholars, nutrition experts, and policy regulators. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
... Branding packaged foods with licensed characters substantially influence young children's taste preferences (Roberto et al., 2010). Drawing on the concept of "nutri-tainment" or "eater-tainment", marketers often try to combine nutrition and entertainment when targeting children (Gram et al., 2010;Elliott, 2011): offering a cookie with cereal and in the shape of Dora the Explorer™ provides taste enjoyment and nutritional benefits while projecting children in a fantasy world. ...
Article
Purpose – This paper aims to explore the role played by food brands within children’s peer groups when they have a meal together. Design/methodology/approach – Sixty-four elementary-aged children participated in one of ten organized snack times (five with unbranded products, five with branded products). Based on a qualitative methodology, data collection methods comprise observations and focus groups with the children. Findings – Children mostly select the products according to their taste preference regardless of the brand name. They make individual decisions and are hardly influenced by their peers. Children use food brands as a common language to designate products, but they do not use them to convey their self-identity and enhance social integration. Research limitations/implications – This research contributes to a better understanding of the way children use food brands within peer group, and may be helpful when considering the future of children’s food marketing and tackling the issue of childhood obesity. Originality/value – Whereas prior research has mostly studied the social value allocated by children to durable goods’ brands, such as clothing and electronic items, very few previous studies have focused on food brands.
... These methods enabled them to identify relatively simple changes that would provide opportunities for increased physical activity, such as the availability of loose rather than fixed equipment, which had not been identified when other research methods were used. Elliot (2011) conducted focus groups to obtain children's views about food to examine the influence of child-oriented food marketing strategies on children's perspectives on food. She found that children viewed unprocessed fruits, vegetables and meats as "adult foods"; the "fun" foods that they saw as being for children were processed, sugary and low in nutrients. ...
Conference Paper
Aims: To address a research gap about influences in the social worlds of children of mothers with intellectual disability in middle childhood. Research has focused on their risk of developmental delay, abuse or neglect and established a significant risk of removal from parental care. Research suggests some mothers with intellectual disability may face social restrictions but the implications for their children’s social experiences are unknown. Method: Child-centred methods including interviews, photography and drawing were employed to hear children's perspectives of their social worlds. Narrative analysis explains that children tell stories to make sense of their social experiences and can illuminate influences that shape their social worlds. Results: Findings indicate children's social worlds are not necessarily restricted when they have a mother with intellectual disability. Characteristics of home such as the predictability of routines and the availability of another reliable, supportive adult influenced a child’s social experiences in contexts such as school, peers and neighbourhoods. Children from homes with social support and predictable routines were more optimistic about positive social interactions beyond the home than children from socially isolated and chaotic home environments. Conclusion: The exploratory study challenges the assumption that children of mothers with intellectual disability will face social restrictions
... For example, James (1982) shows how English children adopted the word "ket" to refer to favorite sweets, while adults used the same word to reference rubbish or useless things. Similarly, children are known to conceptualize foods as belonging to dichotomous adult food or kid food categories (Chapman and Maclean 1993;Elliott 2011). Indian adolescents may similarly consider nontraditional, foreign foods eaten outside the home prestigious at least in part because these foods are not "for adults." ...
Article
This study provides a foundation for understanding how globalization and changing food environments are linked to cultural models of food prestige in adolescents. We used methods from cognitive anthropology, including free lists, pile sorts, and consensus modeling, to explore the meanings that Indian adolescents attribute to foods. Adolescents (n = 29) were asked to free list foods eaten outside and inside the home. Different adolescents (n = 65) were asked to pile sort and rank 30 foods identified during the free lists according to which foods are the most prestigious, traditional, routine, and advertised on television. We found that adolescents overwhelmingly believed nontraditional foods to be the most prestigious. Nonlocal foods, both from foreign countries and other regions of India, as well as foods eaten outside the home, were also considered prestigious.
... Researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada extensively studied the subject of children's classification of foods, focusing on children's perceptions of 'kid food' v. 'adult food'. (30,31) Results demonstrated that focusing on values underpinning children's classifications, such as 'desirable' or 'boring', can help to illuminate children's development of food preference. A study by Cornwell et al. found that children's knowledge of fast food and packaged brands was a significant predictor of BMI, even after considering time spent viewing television (32) . ...
Article
Objective To determine how children interpret terms related to food processing; whether their categorisation of foods according to processing level is consistent with those used in research; and whether they associate the degree of processing with healthfulness. Design Qualitative data were collected from ten focus groups. Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematic analysis was conducted. Setting Four elementary and afterschool programmes in a large, urban school district in the USA that served predominantly low-income, racial/ethnic minority students. Participants Children, 9–12 years old, in the fourth–sixth grades ( n 53). Results The sample was 40 % male, 47 % Hispanic with a mean age of 10·4 ± 1·1 years. Children’s understanding of unprocessed foods was well aligned with research classifications, while concordance of highly processed foods with research categorisations varied. Five primary themes regarding the way children categorised foods according to their processing level emerged: type and amount of added ingredients; preparation method; packaging and storage; change in physical state or sensory experience; and growing method. Most children associated processing level with healthfulness, describing unprocessed foods as healthier. The most common reason provided for the unhealthfulness of processed foods was added ingredients, including ‘chemicals’ and ‘sugar’. Conclusions The current study demonstrated that children have a working knowledge of processing that could be leveraged to encourage healthier eating patterns; however, their understanding is not always consistent with the classification systems used in research. The vocabulary used by researchers and consumers to talk about processing must be reconciled to translate findings into actionable messages.
... These methods enabled them to identify relatively simple changes that would provide opportunities for increased physical activity, such as the availability of loose rather than fixed equipment, which had not been identified when other research methods were used. Elliot (2011) conducted focus groups to obtain children's views about food to examine the influence of child-oriented food marketing strategies on children's perspectives on food. She found that children viewed unprocessed fruits, vegetables and meats as "adult foods"; the "fun" foods that they saw as being for children were processed, sugary and low in nutrients. ...
Thesis
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Background Our understanding of childhood for children of mothers with intellectual disability is based on a small number of retrospective accounts which point to some social difficulties, including bullying and stigma. Most research on mothers with intellectual disability and their children has focused on the possibility of developmental delay or abuse and neglect, with little consideration of children’s experiences. The voices of children and their perspective on their lives are missing. The literature suggests that some mothers with intellectual disability experience social isolation, with few friends or family and reliance on formal services for support. However, it is not yet known whether a potentially restricted social context for these mothers influences the social experiences of their children. The study takes a standpoint informed by bioecological theory and the sociology of childhood. Together they provide a framework to explain the interconnected nature of children and their environment, whereby interactions in everyday contexts shape children’s lives in ways they are uniquely positioned to identify. Seven children aged 7 to 11 years took part in semi-structured interviews and activities, such as drawing and photography, to explore their perspectives on everyday life. A narrative approach was employed to analyse children’s stories about what was important in the social worlds of home, school, peers and neighbourhood. The narratives of the children suggested that the social world of home influenced social interactions in other settings. When children perceived their home as predictable and secure, they spoke more confidently about exploring social interactions elsewhere. Children identified having support from another significant adult apart from their mother as key to a stable home social world. The findings highlight that social worlds for children are not inevitably restricted when their mothers have intellectual disability, even when their mother faces restricted social circumstances. The findings challenge an assumption frequently found in the literature that mothers with intellectual disability may provide less than optimal environments for their children and, specifically, for their social worlds.
... As previous research has demonstrated, children and their parents often argue about what product would be the best to buy when they are at the store (1)(2)(3)(4) . One of the reasons for this difficulty is that parents and children are likely working at cross purposes because children are set on getting the product that is fun and is made for 'kid-tastes' while parents are hoping to find a product that promises healthy content for the family (5,6) . Consequently, food makers who wish to target the child market are working to appeal to two different sensibilities: they want their food to appeal to children by emphasizing the fun aspects yet they also want their food to appeal to parents by emphasizing the fact that the food is 'good' for children, particularly on their product packaging. ...
Article
Objective: We tested whether the presence of both child-targeted and nutrition-focused (i.e. parent-targeted) marketing cues on food packaging was associated with the nutritional content of these products. Design: We conducted a quantitative content analysis of 403 food packages chosen randomly from the supermarket's online portal along with all products (n 312) from the cereal aisle in a supermarket from the Southeastern USA. We examined main and interaction effects for cues on nutritional content (e.g. energy density, sugar, sodium, fibre). Setting: A regional supermarket chain in the Southeastern USA. Results: Tests of main effects indicated that increased presence of nutritional cues was linked to more nutritious content (e.g. less sugar, less saturated fat, more fibre) while the increased presence of child-targeted cues was uniformly associated with less nutritious content (e.g. more sugar, less protein, less fibre). Among the interaction effects, results revealed that products with increased nutrition-focused and child-targeted cues were likely to contain significantly more sugar and less protein than other products. Conclusions: Products that seek to engage children with their packaging in the supermarket are significantly less nutritious than foods that do not, while product packages that suggest nutritional benefits have more nutritious content. More importantly, the study provides evidence that those products which try to engage both child and parent consumers are significantly less healthy in crucial ways (e.g. more sugar, less fibre) than products that do not.
... 6,18 Further, our current unhealthy food culture makes the notion of personal choice a complex one because many social norms, learned behaviours, and expectations about food are strongly influenced by marketing campaigns of the food industry. 19,20 Adults are equally susceptible to selecting unhealthy foods, or wanting unhealthy foods such as hot dogs and fries to be readily available in RSS facilities. 21 This further highlights how the availability of unhealthy foods in settings like RSS is both normalized and entrenched. ...
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Recreation and sport settings (RSS) typically promote health in the form of physical activity, but the healthfulness of their food environment is often neglected. We explored stakeholder perspectives on barriers to healthy food provision in RSS through telephone interviews with ten representatives from RSS across Nova Scotia. Three key barriers were identified: 1) cultural norms associated with food in RSS and the broader environment, 2) the persisting notion of personal choice and responsibility, and 3) financial implications of healthy food provision. These barriers challenge healthy food provision in RSS and require multi-faceted strategies to overcome social norms that undermine health behaviours.
... This is particularly concerning for children and youth, because studies have shown that when healthy and unhealthy choices are available within RSS, children and youth continue to purchase primarily unhealthy options [6,24]. We did not specifically assess food marketing within the RSS studied, but it is already known that many unhealthy foods are targeted specifically to children and youth as 'kid food' [25] and eating junk food has been associated with independence from adults, friendship, and youth [26]. The availability of unhealthy foods in RSS may be so entrenched in our culture that they are normalized. ...
Article
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Interventions to support healthy eating among populations are needed to address diet-related chronic disease. Recreation and sport settings are increasingly identified as ideal settings for promoting overall health, particularly for children, through creation of environments that support positive health behaviours. These publicly funded settings typically support health through physical activity promotion. However, the food environment within them is often not reflective of nutrition guidelines. As more jurisdictions release nutrition guidelines in such settings, the purpose of this study was to assess whether voluntary nutrition guidelines, released in 2015 in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, had any impact on food environments in these settings. Baseline and follow-up audits of food environments were conducted one year before (in 30 facilities) and one year after guideline release (in 27 facilities). Audits involved classifying all foods and beverages within vending machines and concessions as Do Not Sell, Minimum, Moderate, or Maximum nutrition, using criteria provided in the guidelines. The proportion of items within each category was calculated, and differences from pre- to post-guideline release were assessed using Chi-squared statistics. Results indicated limited change in food and beverage provision from pre- to post- guideline release. In fact, from pre- to post-guideline release, the proportion of Do Not Sell vending beverages and concession foods increased significantly, while Maximum concession beverages decreased, suggesting a worsening of the food environment post-guideline release. Findings suggest that voluntary guidelines alone are insufficient to improve food environments in recreation and sport settings. For widespread changes in the food environment of these settings to occur, more attention needs to be paid to reducing social, cultural, political and economic barriers to change (real and perceived) that have been identified in these settings, alongside developing leadership and capacity within facilities, to ensure that positive changes to food environments can be implemented and sustained.
... The second consideration pertains to the classification of foods outside of a nutrient profiling approach; namely, considering how consumers understand and categorize food, and classify foods as "healthy" and "unhealthy". We know that children understand and classify foods in broad terms [27]. The question arises: will banning the promotion of particular fruit snacks or particular applesauces to children while allowing the marketing of other fruit snacks and applesauces work to make a difference in children's understanding of these foods as healthy or less healthy options? ...
Article
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Marketing unhealthy food and beverages to children is a pervasive problem despite the negative impact it has on children’s taste preferences, eating habits and health. In an effort to mitigate this influence on Canadian children, Health Canada has developed a nutrient profile model with two options for national implementation. This study examined the application of Health Canada’s proposed model to 374 child-targeted supermarket products collected in Calgary, AB, Canada and compared this with two international nutrient profile models. Products were classified as permitted or not permitted for marketing to children using the Health Canada model (Option 1 and Option 2), the WHO Regional Office for Europe model, and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) model. Results were summarized using descriptive statistics. Overall, Health Canada’s Option 1 was the most stringent, permitting only 2.7% of products to be marketed to children, followed by PAHO (7.0%), WHO (11.8%), and Health Canada’s Option 2 (28.6%). Across all models, six products (1.6%) were universally permitted, and nearly 60% of products were universally not permitted on the basis of nutritional quality. Such differences in classification have significant policy and health-related consequences, given that different foods will be framed as “acceptable” for marketing to children—and understood as more or less healthy—depending on the model used.
... This is also the case when items are given to minors by their parents, for instance, the parents in The Middle often giving the children fast food for dinner. The continual representation of unhealthy products in association with children and adolescents could prompt a vicious cycle of media representations that mirror reality and at once establish directives for children's diets (Elliott, 2011). On one hand, children are targeted in children's programming with an abundance of unhealthy foods and beverages (Eisenberg et al., 2016;Radnitz et al., 2009;Roseman et al., 2014), which engenders in children an increased awareness of and preference for unhealthy products (e.g., Auty & Lewis, 2004). ...
Article
We analyzed comedy series for food and beverage references, with particular attention to their type of presentation, along with the characteristics of actors associated with the references. Because the generally positive tone of comedy series can exert affective influence over audiences, the result that clearly unhealthy products appeared more often (food: 51.6%; beverage: 40.5%) than clearly healthy ones (food: 11.2%; beverage: 19.6%) could be especially problematic. Moreover, women (56.5%; men: 47.4%) and African American characters (62.7%; Caucasians: 51.5%; Other: 44.7%) were significantly more often associated with unhealthy foods, which could prompt stereotypes of such individuals.
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Les installations récréatives et sportives (IRS) font généralement la promotion de la santé par l’activité physique, mais la qualité de leur environnement alimentaire est souvent négligée. Nous avons exploré les perspectives des intervenants quant aux obstacles à l’offre d’aliments sains dans les IRS en effectuant des entrevues téléphoniques avec dix représentants d’IRS de l’ensemble de la Nouvelle-Écosse. Trois obstacles principaux ont été identifiés : 1) les normes culturelles associées à la nourriture dans les IRS et dans un environnement plus large, 2) la notion ancrée de choix et de responsabilité personnels et 3) les implications financières d’une offre alimentaire saine. Ces obstacles limitent l’offre d’aliments sains dans les IRS et exigent des stratégies variées pour surmonter les normes sociales qui nuisent aux comportements sains.
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This article examines the perspectives of Canadian parents to detail their views on the regulation of child-targeted supermarket foods. Even though regulatory recommendations exist on various aspects of food marketing to children, no published research examines what parents think of the hundreds of child-targeted foods available in the supermarket, and whether parents think any regulatory measures on these foods are necessary or even desired. The research is particularly timely given recent policy proposals that food packaging should be included as part of the definition of marketing targeted to children. A slight majority of parents supported regulation, and their discussions revealed the complexity behind parents' choices when it comes to "fun" supermarket foods and regulation. Issues of nutritionism, labeling, nutriwashing and manipulation in the name of health are all brought to the fore, as are some of the tensions between endorsing children's need for "fun" and transforming food into a gimmick to sell products.
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In light of its influence on food preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns, food marketing—particularly for unhealthy foods—has been increasingly recognized as a problem that affects the health of young people. This has prompted both a scrutiny of the nutritional quality of food products and various interventions to promote healthy eating. Frequently overlooked by the public health community, however, is the symbolic and social meaning of food for teenagers. Food has nutritive value, but it has symbolic value as well—and this qualitative study explores the meaning of non-branded foods for teenagers. Inspired by the construct of brand personality, we conduct focus groups with 12–14 year olds in to probe their perspectives on the “food personalities” of unbranded/commodity products and categories of food. Despite the lack of targeted marketing/promotional campaigns for the foods discussed, the focus groups found a remarkable consensus regarding the characteristics and qualities of foods for young people. Teenagers stigmatize particular foods (such as broccoli) and valorize others (such as junk food), although their discussions equally reveal the need to consider questions beyond that of social positioning/social status. We suggest that public health initiatives need to focus greater attention on the symbolic aspects of food, since a focus on nutritional qualities does not unveil the other significant factors that may make foods appealing, or distasteful, to young people.
Article
Purpose ‐ Despite their responsibility for mitigating the influence of commercial culture on children, parents' views of fun food marketing aimed at children remain largely unexplored. This article aims to probe parents' views of supermarket fun foods and the packaging used to promote them to children. Design/methodology/approach ‐ In total 60 in-depth interviews were conducted with parents from different educational backgrounds, living in three different Canadian cities. Interview responses were analyzed and coded thematically using an iterative process in keeping with grounded theory. Findings ‐ Parents generally discussed the promotion of supermarket fun foods to children as either an issue of the nutritional quality of foods promoted to children and/or in light of the communication quality of marketing aimed at children. Parents were also divided along education lines: parents with higher educational backgrounds were more likely to oppose fun foods and praise more pastoral ideals food production and consumption, while those with less education more often praised fun foods. Research limitations/implications ‐ These findings cannot be generalized to other parents or parents in other countries. The findings, however, suggest that a more nuanced consideration of differences within and across parents' views is warranted in debates about responsible marketing to children. Originality/value ‐ This article provides a qualitatively rich snapshot of the views of 60 Canadian parents regarding child-targeted food marketing, and raises important questions about how to incorporate parents' views into discussions about responsible marketing, rather than presuming they are all of one mindset.
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Political stakeholders play a critical role in the cultural construction of the marketplace, and consumers often look to them for guidance in framing ambiguous cultural and scientific issues. Unfortunately, however, the existing consumer culture literature usually focuses on consumers' use of ideology while neglecting stakeholders' ideological orientations. In order to address this gap, I ask two questions: First, how do stakeholders draw upon ideology in order to make sense of ambiguous goods and of the extant and potential reactions of consumers to these goods? Second, what are the potential political consequences of stakeholders' ideological commitments vis-a-vis supporters and outside audiences? I explore these questions by interviewing agrifood system stakeholders on the subject of in vitro meat, a nascent technology whereby meat is produced through stem cell cultures. Although ideology serves as a useful tool with which stakeholders can navigate labyrinth-like cultural conundrums, stakeholders' ideological positions can also result in ambiguities, ironies, and incongruities. By investigating the beginnings of a potential consumer controversy, this study illuminates how ideology operates as an epistemic resource for political claims-makers and how stakeholders' ideological commitments can result in either rewards or repercussions from allies and consumers. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Abstract Rising rates of childhood obesity have led to a greater concern over the impact of food advertising on children's health. Although public policy interventions seek to mitigate the impact of advertising on children, several pervasive myths often sidetrack effective discussions. This Perspective outlines and responds to ten common myths.
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In an era of industrialized food production, ultra-processed foods, “Big Food” marketing, and growing obesity rates, food has come to be framed as an object of risk – and as an object of regulation. Such reframing has fascinating implications related to issues of responsibility and decision making, especially when it comes to children’s food. This article probes the relationship between representation, regulation and “risky” consumption with respect to children’s food. I examine how child-targeted foods become framed as “risky” and what counts as “risky” food messaging under Health Canada’s commitment to restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. Detailing the tension between food as a risk object and food as a child object, I suggest how issues of semantic provisioning and the politics of the unseen work to complicate and destabilize the (seemingly) straightforward process of prohibiting unhealthy food marketing to children.
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This study, conducted in 1994, set out to explore food preferences, eating behaviour and food choice with Primary 7 children (mean age 11 years) in a small primary school in Edinburgh. A qualitative methodological approach was adopted, utilising focus groups and observational techniques. Analysis of the data indicated food choice was not determined by the health attributes of food but rather that values of preference, play, socialisation and convenience were given a higher priority than health by the children when making food choices. 'Healthy' foods were found to be associated with the concept of a proper meal and homemade foods. A different classification of foods based on like and dislike was proposed to explain children's food choice.
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This paper details a qualitative study which explored how 6-11 year olds in Cardiff, Wales, think about information they receive about food and nutrition, and how this affects preferences and practices. Seventy-four children from four local primary schools participated in semi-structured one-to-one interviews. The data indicate that in both age groups: (1) Children operate contradictions about food effortlessly, incorporating notions of "bad" and "good" relating to food and its health and social consequences. (2) Information about food is drawn on inconsistently and selectively in different social environments. (3) Children operate singular notions of the health consequences of food: for example, sugar rots teeth, fat affects weight. (4) Peer influence is strong, with conforming behavior in both age groups and sexes. (5) Eating is an age-isolated activity and concept—children copy each other at school and make individualized choices at home, moderated rather than determined by parents.
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Children are increasingly acknowledged to have rights in the determination of decisions that affect them. This has encouraged research to be undertaken with children themselves to understand their own views, experiences and relationships, and has demonstrated a considerable gulf from parental concerns and observations. Methods for research with children are, however, relatively under-developed. This article reflects on our experience of conducting focus groups with children aged 7-11 years to examine their experiences of living with asthma. It discusses the use of child-friendly techniques to promote participation and access children’s meanings, and raises issues about the size and composition of groups and recruitment strategies, group dynamics, tensions and sensitive moments. We conclude that focus groups are a valuable method for eliciting children’s views and experiences and complement personal interviews, while important questions relate to enhancing children’s participation in other stages of the research process.
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Against a background of research suggesting that brand symbolism understanding does not develop until 7 to 11 years of age, two studies investigate various aspects of preschool children's brand knowledge. While children's recognition of child-oriented brands is found to be significantly greater than their recognition of brands that are marketed primarily to teens and adults, these young children do recognize brands. In a second study, children's ability to form mental representations of brands is assessed, along with their understanding of brands as social symbols. Cognitive ability, theory of mind, and executive functioning are assessed as predictors of these brand-related outcomes. Theory of mind and executive functioning are both significant predictors of the ability to form mental representations of brands. Children's brand symbolism understanding shows a significant link with theory of mind. It is concluded that 3- to 5-year-olds have emerging knowledge of brands that are relevant in their lives. The impact of individual differences in theory of mind and executive functioning on children's brand knowledge aligns with current theories of child development. Methodological contributions and societal implications are discussed. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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To review and synethize the research material on focus groups with children and adolescents and to provide guidelines for future development. Psychlit, Medline, and Cinahl electronic databases, as well as the reference lists of those articles consulted, were reviewed for information regarding focus groups with participants under the age of 18 years. Both empirical and methodological articles were part of this review. We review the utility of focus groups for exploratory research, program evaluation, program development, and questionnaire construction or adaptation. Based on previous research, we provide guidelines for focus groups with children and adolescents and outline suggestions for future development. There is evidence to suggest that focus groups are a valuable means of eliciting children's views on health-related matters, given an appropriate research question. However, empirical research is required in order to investigate systematically the effect of different processes and variables on the final outcome of focus group interviews.
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The aims of this qualitative article are to describe children's food-related practices and meanings and to explore how food-related practices embody meanings of food, age, and gender in children's everyday lives. Relationships between practices and meanings are examined from an embodiment perspective. The data were collected from one class of fourth-grade children (N = 24) in central Kentucky by a mix of ethnographic research methods. The participating children's food-related practices and meanings reflected a categorization into healthy and "junk" food, likes and dislikes, meals and snacks, children and adults, and masculine and feminine. The children's food discourse focused on preferences and they based their eating on a three meal pattern. Both the girls and boys strongly identified with "junk" food and were not interested in eating in a healthy manner. Results suggest that the children used foods to differentiate adults from children, but they had not completely embodied gendered food meanings.
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Ideas of fun and play have emerged as dominant characteristics in children's packaged food marketing. This article examines both the expression and implications of "eatertainment" in children's packaged food products, contrasting it with the theme of engagement that typifies the marketing of many adult foodstuffs. I detail how child-oriented packaged food both embodies and communicates (historical, culturally specific) ideas about childhood, and explore how the reclassification of children's food into "fun food" brings with it a series of unintended consequences, which include commodification, the reinforcement of webs of consumption, and the encouragement of overeating.
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Objectives. Obesity has become a global epidemic but our understanding of the problem in children is limited due to lack of comparable representative data from different countries, and varying criteria for defining obesity. This paper summarises the available information on recent trends in child overweight and obesity prevalence. Methods. PubMed was searched for data relating to trends over time, in papers published between January 1980 and October 2005. Additional studies identified by citations in retrieved papers and by consultation with experts were included. Data for trends over time were found for school-age populations in 25 countries and for pre-school populations in 42 countries. Using these reports, and data collected for the World Health Organization's Burden of Disease Program, we estimated the global prevalence of overweight and obesity among school-age children for 2006 and likely prevalence levels for 2010. Results. The prevalence of childhood overweight has increased in almost all countries for which data are available. Exceptions are found among school-age children in Russia and to some extent Poland during the 1990s. Exceptions are also found among infant and pre-school children in some lower-income countries. Obesity and overweight has increased more dramatically in economically developed countries and in urbanized populations. Conclusions. There is a growing global childhood obesity epidemic, with a large variation in secular trends across countries. Effective programs and policies are needed at global, regional and national levels to limit the problem among children.
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Fun food is an overlooked, but increasingly significant, category of food targeted to children in the supermarket. These supermarket products empha-size foods' play factor, interactivity, artificiality, and general distance from "regu-lar" foods: food is positioned as "fun" and eating as "entertainment." Using a series of focus groups, this study examined how children (segmented by age and gender) interpret these packaged appeals and how the thematic of fun connects with their understanding of health and nutrition. The study revealed that children are highly attuned to fun foods and its packaging, offering savvy, if flawed, inter-pretations of how to determine the healthfulness of a packaged good. I argue that the symbolic positioning of children's food as fun and fake creates several road-blocks in the quest to promote wholesome food habits in children, and that the thematic of fun has unintended consequences that require careful consideration. Résumé : Au supermarché, les aliments amusants sont une catégorie de nourriture négligée – mais de plus en plus importante – qui cible les enfants. De tels produits mettent l'accent sur l'aspect ludique, interactif et artificiel de la nourriture ainsi que sur leur distance par rapport à la nourriture « normale »; ainsi, ces aliments sont qualifiés d'amusants et manger est un divertissement. Cette étude se fonde sur une série de groupes de discussion pour examiner comment les enfants (divisés par âge et sexe) interprètent ce conditionnement des aliments et comment la thématique du plaisir influence leur compréhension de ce qui est sain et nutritif. L'étude révèle que les enfants sont très sensibles aux nourritures amusantes et à leur présentation, et offrent des interprétations astucieuses mais défectueuses de leur valeur nutritive. Je soutiens que le positionnement symbolique de la nourriture pour enfants dans le domaine du plaisir et de l'artifice crée de nombreux obstacles pour la promotion de bonnes habitudes alimentaires chez les enfants, et que la thématique du plaisir a des conséquences non intentionnelles qui requièrent une attention toute particulière.
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To describe the global regulatory environment around food marketing to children in 2009 and to identify changes in this environment since 2006. Informants able to provide information on national controls on marketing to children were identified and sent a standardised template for data collection, developed and refined through iterative use with informants. Responses were encouraged by sending draft versions of completed templates to informants for their approval. The policy environment was described in the 27 member states of the European Union, and in a further 32 countries. Of these 59 countries, 26 have made explicit statements on food marketing to children in strategy documents, and 20 have, or are developing, explicit policies in the form of statutory measures, official guidelines or approved forms of self-regulation. These figures reflect a change in the policy environment since 2006. Although there is still resistance to change, there has been significant movement towards greater restriction on promotional marketing to children, achieved through a variety of means. Government-approved forms of self-regulation have been the dominant response, but statutory measures are increasingly being adopted. The nature and degree of the restrictions differ considerably, with significant implications for policy impact. In many cases the policy objectives remain poorly articulated, resulting in difficulty in formulating indicators to monitor and assess impact. To address food marketing to children, governments need to develop clearer statements of the objectives to be achieved, define the indicators that can demonstrate this achievement, and require the relevant stakeholders to account for the progress being made.
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The goal was to study how popular licensed cartoon characters appearing on food packaging affect young children's taste and snack preferences. Forty 4- to 6-year-old children tasted 3 pairs of identical foods (graham crackers, gummy fruit snacks, and carrots) presented in packages either with or without a popular cartoon character. Children tasted both food items in each pair and indicated whether the 2 foods tasted the same or one tasted better. Children then selected which of the food items they would prefer to eat for a snack. Children significantly preferred the taste of foods that had popular cartoon characters on the packaging, compared with the same foods without characters. The majority of children selected the food sample with a licensed character on it for their snack, but the effects were weaker for carrots than for gummy fruit snacks and graham crackers. Branding food packages with licensed characters substantially influences young children's taste preferences and snack selection and does so most strongly for energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods. These findings suggest that the use of licensed characters to advertise junk food to children should be restricted.
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Reducing food marketing to children has been proposed as one means for addressing the global crisis of childhood obesity, but significant social, legal, financial, and public perception barriers stand in the way. The scientific literature documents that food marketing to children is (a) massive; (b) expanding in number of venues (product placements, video games, the Internet, cell phones, etc.); (c) composed almost entirely of messages for nutrient-poor, calorie-dense foods; (d) having harmful effects; and (e) increasingly global and hence difficult to regulate by individual countries. The food industry, governmental bodies, and advocacy groups have proposed a variety of plans for altering the marketing landscape. This article reviews existing knowledge of the impact of marketing and addresses the value of various legal, legislative, regulatory, and industry-based approaches to change.
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The family diet is influenced by children's attitudes toward food, which in turn are influenced by television. In a panel study involving 134 children in 1st to 3rd grade, television viewing, nutritional knowledge, and nutritional reasoning were measured 6 weeks apart. Television viewing predicted subsequent decrements in nutritional knowledge and reasoning, but these findings were significant only for foods that tend to be heavily marketed as weight-loss aids. Television's framing of diet foods may confuse children by equating weight-loss benefits with nutritional benefits.
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Children's exposure to food marketing has exploded in recent years, along with rates of obesity and overweight. Children of color and low-income children are disproportionately at risk for both marketing exposure and becoming overweight. Comprehensive reviews of the literature show that advertising is effective in changing children's food preferences and diets. This paper surveys the scope and scale of current marketing practices, and focuses on the growing use of symbolic appeals that are central in food brands to themes such as finding an identity and feeling powerful and in control. These themes are so potent because they are central to children in their development and constitution of self. The paper concludes that reduction of exposure to marketing will be a central part of any successful anti-obesity strategy.
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Childhood obesity is a significant problem that requires innovative solutions. This article suggests that researchers and policy-makers move beyond a scrutiny of junk food and televised advertisements to children to focus on the messages targeted to children in the supermarket. Following a content analysis of fun foods marketed to children, the article (a) outlines why the recoding of "regular" food into "fun food" contributes to the childhood obesity crisis, and (b) suggests how the meaning-making practices of food can be acknowledged in the policy-making process.
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