Marketing food to children through product packaging gracie whitaker

"Marketing foods to children through product packaging: prolific, unhealthy and misleading" in Public Health Nutrition, Volume 15, Issue 9.

Published by Cambridge Core, a platform for academic content released by Cambridge University Press. Cambridge University Press was established in 1534 and serves as an outlet for research and academic information.


  • Investigated how companies use packaging to appeal to children.
  • Discussed various claims used by companies on their packaging, particularly pertaining to health, and their validity.
  • Claimed the power of marketing of "non-core" food products to children is a major contributor to childhood obesity.
As a packaging major, it's important to know how the content on your package is influencing the public, especially if it is negatively affecting the health of the youth. From an ethical standpoint, a package should not mislead the public about its content.


  • Abstract
  • Methods- sampling, units of data, data collection, data analysis, etc.
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions


"In 2002, more money was spent on supermarket sales promotions in the USA ($US 234 billion) than was spent on television advertising ($US 212 billion)"

"Up to 85 % of supermarket purchases are made on impulse, and packaging is known to play a crucial role in purchasing decisions. Children are considered to be the demographic most influenced by product packaging and investment in child-oriented product packaging has been put at $US 3 billion annually."


"One disturbing finding from the present study was the use of ‘claims about health and nutrition’ on more than half (55·5 %) of non-core foods; in other words, unhealthy foods were portrayed, in some way, as healthy."


"A study by McNeal and Ji requiring children to ‘draw a cereal box’ resulted in 97% of children drawing pictures with detailed brand imagery, thereby revealing the extent of detailed brand symbolism stored in children's memories"



recommendations for packaging science majors

  • Urges self-regulation of marketing to children by companies
  • Awareness of the ways in which packaging influences children is important, i.e. semiotics, enticing shapes, cross-promotions, etc.
  • Reduce the amount of use of popular cartoon characters and endorsements that easily sway kids on non-core food products.

recommendations for engaged citizens

  • Called attention to parents to be wary of health claims made on packaging and to make judgment calls based on the nutrition label of a product.
  • Support companies that don't use these tactics and buy fewer products that use misleading and exploitative marketing towards children.

Works Cited

Mehta, Kaye, Clare Phillips, Paul Ward, John Coveney, Elizabeth Handsley, and Patricia Carter. "Marketing foods to children through product packaging: prolific, unhealthy and misleading." Public Health Nutrition 15.09 (2012): 1763-770. Web.

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