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Study finds dual marketing of kids’ beverage to parents and kids may convey a wrong health message

Posted:  Thursday, November 19, 2015

Advertisements for kids’ packaged foods are not just aimed at them but at parents too! What may seem like a regular marketing gimmick could in fact be a wise way to mislead parents about the product’s nutrition. A new study revealed that adverts of kids packaged foods aimed at parents could parade sugar-laden, nutritionally poor foods as healthy for children.

The study results, which appeared in the journal Pediatrics, evaluated airtime commercials for children’s packaged foods and beverages in the US between 2012 and 2013. The researchers split the commercials in to 2 categories; animated ones targeting children and those showing family bonding, meant for parents.

The researchers found that out of 3,000 hours of total airtime for these commercials in a year, a significant 42% of them was meant for parents. These adverts most likely showed messages about health and images of active lifestyles. Sugar sweetened beverages even went the extra mile touting the products to have ‘40% lesser calories than sodas’.

The adverts targeted for kids featured taste, fantasy theme and played on the coolness quotient. This dual strategy, say the researchers, is nothing but a plan to increase sales.

"They are marketing to kids with ads that likely increase pestering from the child for the products, so they get the child excited about the product. But then they are marketing to parents with a separate set of ads that promote nutrition and a healthy lifestyle in what might be the hope of preventing the parents from feeling guilty about buying this product for the child,” said the researchers.

The researchers cautioned parents regarding such kind of commercials. It is indeed time for the companies to market products responsibly.

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