News article

Children recognise unhealthy foods brands more

Posted:  Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Researchers have found that children recognize unhealthy food packaging better as compared to healthy food packaging. Pre-School children pick up cues from television channels that advertise both healthy and less healthy food.

A study conducted by Mimi Tatlow-Golden from University College Dublin (UCD) found that children between the ages of 3-5 years were able to identify logos of unhealthy food and drinks brand better than healthy food brands. Tatlow-golden also added that the exposure to television was the reason that they were able to identify.

"These findings suggest that we need to look at the complete marketing environment to all age groups, not just TV advertising. It looks as if marketing effects may be taking place through parents, who choose food for themselves and for their children. The findings also highlight a window of opportunity for educating families and young children in the pre-school years," she noted.

The researchers also stated that food habits are develop at an early stage and to modify at this age is much easier than later.

"Food education in crèches and preschools also needs to be supported creatively. It should include teaching children about what's not healthy - not just what's good for them - as they have little understanding of this, yet they have high levels of knowledge about unhealthy food brands,” said study co-author, Dr Eilis Hennessy of UCD.

"To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive account of children's early food/drink brand knowledge development, and also the first with a clear rationale for brand selection, having chosen from food and drink brands most advertised to children (aged 4–6 years) on live television," added the team.

Healthy Vs Unhealthy food:

Pre-schoolers are exposed to many different types of food but are more inclined towards unhealthy food due to this there is a rise in obesity among this generation. They need to be taught the difference between healthy and unhealthy food as they are most receptive at this age.

Healthy food diet:

Children need to get the adequate amount of calcium, Vitamin D3, minerals and other essential nutrients to aid in their growing years. Add seafood, lean meat, eggs, unsalted nuts and seeds and beans to their daily diet as it improves their protein intake. A healthy helping of fruits and vegetables also aid in the growing ages. Add oatmeal, whole grains to their breakfast meal; instead of juice hand them a glass of milk or yogurt for daily dairy intake.

The research team were able to assess better how well the children recognised each brand by evaluating three forms of food brands. "Young children had high levels of food brand recognition (image matching) but were less able to recall product types or brand names." "This is before young children's understanding of healthy foods advances (between 4 and 5 years), as we found in a companion study conducted with the same group of pre-schoolers," said Tatlow-Golden and her colleagues. The younger generation are exposed to many different brands and there is a need to curb the intake of unhealthy food.